Despite the gloomy economy, consumers are eager to have a “frightfully good time” this Halloween as a record 161 million people plan to celebrate the ghoulish holiday, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Sal Perisano, CEO of iParty in Dedham, said he’s seen sales of Halloween merchandise growing over the last 10 years, in part, to its popularity among college students.
“Halloween is still a cheap date,” he said. “You can have lots of fun without spending lots of money. It’s a way for people to celebrate their individuality and cut loose a little bit.”
The retail trade group’s survey found that seven in 10 Americans, or nearly 69 percent, plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 64 percent last year — the most in the survey’s 10-year history.
Those celebrating are expected to spend more. The average shopper will shell out about $72 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66 last year, a 9 percent jump. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion, the trade group said.
“Halloween is a great form of escape for lots of people and, given the fragile state of the economy, it’s more popular than ever,” said Doug Fleener, president of Dynamic Experiences, a retail consultant. “Consumers have cut back on so many other areas, but they’re willing to spend cash on a fun event that comes just once a year.”
Pamela Goodfellow, consumer insights director at BIGresearch and the survey’s author, said consumers will spend an average of about $26 on a costume. “As a non-gift holiday, even people on the strictest budget can enjoy themselves this Halloween,” she said.