Like the rest of the economy, Halloween has moved online.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, 52% of parents opted to shop in-store for children's costumes, Statista said. Another 49% shopped in-store for candy, Statista also found.
The online crowd is growing in 2021, though. Data from Influence Central found that 55% of parents plan to shop online for their children's costumes this year while just 42% plan to look for costumes in stores.
A year removed from the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are embracing the spooky tradition of Oct. 31. Influence Central found that only 3% of parents plan to sit out Halloween this year, while 34% expect to celebrate with a small gathering of people to dress up and exchange candy. Another 27% anticipate in-school celebrations.
The outlook for spending reflects this trend. The National Retail Federation surveyed 8,061 consumers from Sept. 1-8 to gauge their plans for Halloween. The organization said overall Halloween spending is set to increase this year from $8 billion in 2020 to $10.14 billion this year. Pre-pandemic, sales were $8.8B in 2019.
Digital sales continue to grow as well, with $2.94 billion expected to be spent online this year, NRF said.
"Americans plan to spend more than ever to make this Halloween a memorable one," Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said in a statement. "Retailers have implemented a number of measures, such as bringing in Halloween products earlier than normal, to ensure their shelves are stocked with seasonal candy, decor and other items ahead of this important holiday."
NRF said 65% of Americans expect to celebrate Halloween this year, with 82% of those with children doing so. The result is a lot of candy being handed out. The association's survey found 66% expect to hand out candy, 52% will decorate their homes or yards, and 46% will dress in costume.
Candy USA, the association representing candy confectioners, said that 87% of people plan to purchase the same amount or more Halloween candy this year compared to 2020. In 2020, Hershey (NYSE: HSY) said its candy sales increased slightly over 2019, driven by an 80% increase in e-commerce sales in Q3 of 2020. Information Resource said candy sales increased 0.3% in 2020 over 2019.
NRF said the average American will spend $102.74 on Halloween this year, up more than $10 from 2020. Households with children will spend $149.69 compared to $73.57 a year ago.
The NRF data seems to be holding true, if Home Depot's 12-foot Skeleton with LifeEyes is any indication. A smash hit in 2020, when the item sold out across the country in a matter of weeks, the retailer brought the item back for 2021, putting the giant skeleton into stores in July. As of the beginning of October, it was nearly impossible to find the item, which retails for $300. If you want to spend, though, Amazon has a similar item for $750 plus additional shipping.
NRF said the first two weeks of October are the peak Halloween shopping time, with 40% of men and 39% of women expected to shop during this period. September was also a big month, with 33% of men and 39% of women shopping in that month. Nearly 100% of people (97% men, 96% women) expect to purchase candy; 79% of men and 78% of women will purchase decorations; and 70% of men and 67% of women will purchase costumes.
"This year in particular, we see an emphasis on Halloween spending from families," Phil Rist, Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy, said in a statement. "Not only are those with children intending to spend more on Halloween-related items like costumes, they are also getting a kick-start on their shopping, with more than half planning to start their shopping in September or earlier."
And more than ever, those purchases will be conducted online.
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