Pumpkin spice is in the air, giant bags of candy are filing store aisles, and Americans are spending a frightful amount of money on what has become a major shopping holiday.
Halloween is expected to spirit away $8.8 billion from consumers' bank accounts in 2019, according to the National Retail Foundation. Consumers told the retail trade group they planned to spend an average $86.27 during this year's spooky season.
But we found that if you fill your shopping cart with all of the traditional trappings of Halloween — including candy, costumes, decorations and the perfect pumpkin — your household can easily spend a far more terrifying $321.56.
If you dare, take a look at the results of our survey of what major retailers are charging this year for all of the typical Halloween fare. See our methodology at the very end.
Average cost for 2 bags: $16.64
Halloween is all about candy, and the National Retail Foundation says 69% of Americans plan to hand out some sweet goodies this year.
Two bags of candy weighing anywhere from 4.5 to 6 pounds should suffice for a busy neighborhood.
We reviewed candy prices from the less expensive — such as classic Tootsie Roll Midgies for about 14 cents an ounce — to more premium kid favorites like Hershey’s Miniatures, costing about 28 cents an ounce.
Americans’ collective spending on Halloween candy this year is expected to reach $2.6 billion. Buying candy in bulk may help lower the cost for your family.
2. Kids’ costumes
Average cost for 2: $46.97
These days, dressing up for Halloween is a full-on competition. Parents and teens are increasingly looking to social media for Halloween costume ideas — and families plan to spend $3.2 billion on cosplay in 2019.
The most popular costumes for kids this year include superheroes, especially Spider-Man, and princesses, such as Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin.
The most expensive costumes are head-to-toe affairs from branded, official sources. A deluxe Princess Jasmine-inspired teal jumpsuit with a peacock cape, or a Spider-Man costume with muscle chest and boots can each cost between $30 and $35 at major retailers.
A generic princess get-up with a crop top and harem pants or a simple Spider-Man jumpsuit cost, on average, about $15 each.
3. Adult costumes
Average cost for 2: $89.75
About a third of Americans plan to throw or attend a Halloween party this year — and that means a whole lot of spending on adult costumes.
We investigated the cost of grown-up costumes based on the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Dressing up as telekinesis-wielding main character Eleven costs an average of $53.31 at major retailers, while you can become her side-kick, Police Chief Hopper, for $59.59 if you buy a branded costume.
Save by renting a costume or shopping second-hand and vintage: A pink dress and tube socks for El or khaki pants and a shirt with an iron-on badge for Hopper would work perfectly — and cost significantly less than official licensed gear.
4. A pumpkin
Average cost: $3.42
With 44% of Americans planning to carve a pumpkin this year, maybe it’s no surprise that the National Garden Bureau has declared 2019 the Year of the Pumpkin.
You'll pay less than $3.50 for your gourd this year, which is way down from last year's average price of $6.16, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The lower prices are a scary good thing, because with the season for pumpkin products now starting in August (thanks, Starbucks!), pumpkins are needed for everything from pies and muffins to savory soups and casseroles.
The National Garden Bureau says medium to large pumpkins with strong handles are best for carving, and smooth, small pumpkins are good choices for painting.
5. A bowl for treats
Average cost: $18.30
A candy bowl comes in handy whether you’re putting out treats in your kitchen or dishing out candy to the parade of trick-or-treaters at the door. While the average cost comes in under $20, you have a wide range of options.
A themed ceramic bowl can add spooky charm to your home’s décor — but we found shoppers can expect to pay an average of $36.99 for those.
Alternatively, a creepy skull-shaped plastic bowl costs an average of about $12, while a simple black plastic cauldron goes for around $6.
When choosing a bowl, practicality is king: A ceramic bowl may be too fragile if you have small, playful children in the house.
6. A basic decoration
Average cost: $27.05
About 3 out of 4 Americans are planning to buy decorations this Halloween, with national spending expected to reach $2.7 billion, says the National Retail Federation.
But you don’t have to turn your garden into an elaborate and expensive ghoul-filled graveyard to make an impact.
One basic decoration, such as a poseable skeleton by your door, can be a budget-friendly way to let trick-or-treaters know they’re welcome to ring the bell. (And then take their chances.)
Poseable skeletons come in a variety of sizes from under 2 feet to over 5 feet tall, and shoppers can expect to spend an average of $9.51 for a 20-inch skeleton to $50.74 for a human-sized version.
7. An interactive decoration
Average cost: $78.35
If your Halloween spirit won’t be satisfied with placing a couple of cobwebs and a pumpkin by your front door, then consider investing in an interactive prop that will terrify anyone passing by with sudden lights and loud noises.
You'll pay an average of around $20 for a 20-inch skeleton with lights and sounds, or $159 for a human-sized skeleton that screams, rattles its chains and flashes lights at unsuspecting passersby.
Even more tricked-out options can cost many hundreds of dollars.
Although interactive decorations may be pricey, they can be reused year after year, unlike disposable décor like streamers.
8. A pet costume
Average cost: $11.41
Americans live with 76.8 million dogs and 58.3 million pet cats, and our furry pals like to get dressed up for Halloween, too.
Instagram and Pinterest are leading the idea train, and retailers now sell pet costumes ranging from simple lion manes to full-body bumblebee and princess get-ups.
Given that there are so many options, the retail industry has found 17% of consumers plan to buy pet costumes this year.
Consumers can expect to pay an average of $5.29 for a simple headgear costume, such as a sunflower or cowboy hat, or up to $19.97 for a Toy Story-inspired Woody the cowboy dog costume.
9. Horror movie collection
Average cost: $20.67
There’s no better way to get into the Halloween spirit than by watching a scary movie — or several.
Horror fans can stock up for the season by purchasing a movie collection. Major retailers sell DVD collections with anywhere from two to 10 or more movies included, while iTunes makes it easy to download collections onto your device of choice.
We found that downloading a horror film collection can cost about three times as much as buying it on DVD. Truly horrifying.
So, keep your movie marathons budget-friendly by sticking with DVDs or by streaming movies if you’re already subscribed to a service like Netflix or Hulu.
10. Greeting cards
Average cost for 3 cards: $9
Halloween is right up there with Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter as a major greeting card holiday — and about a third of Americans plan to buy cards this Halloween.
Spending is estimated to hit $390 million. At the Greeting Card Association’s estimated cost of $2 to $4 per card (we'll go with $3 as the average), that’s a whole lotta paper.
For our research, we assumed that the typical household might buy three Halloween cards: one for Grandma, who loves getting mail, and two for a couple of little ghouls in the extended family.
For some serious savings on cards, check out the $1 and $2 card racks at stores including Target, or consider sending free e-greetings from one of the many sites that offer those.
Our methodology: In most categories, we checked national online prices from at least three of the following retailers: Walmart, Target, Amazon, Sam's Club and Costco. At each retailer, we identified three typical products at different price levels, and we averaged all of those prices to come up with overall national averages. The average price of the horror movie collection factors in the cost of an iTunes collection download, the average pumpkin price is courtesy of the USDA, and the average greeting card price is from the Greeting Card Association.