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2018 Halloween Facts, Trends and Statistics: Spending, Costume Choices and More

The observance of Halloween, which dates back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago (see this page for the history of Halloween), has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts, devils and hobgoblins. In the United States, the first official citywide Halloween celebration occurred in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. Over the years, Halloween customs and rituals have changed dramatically. Today, many of the young and young at heart take a more light-spirited approach. They don scary disguises or ones that may bring on smiles when they go door to door for treats, or attend or host a Halloween party. And the tradition has spread to other countries: Japan and France have ever-growing Halloween parties and activities.

half the population participates in Halloween

It looks like about 180 million people in the US will celebrate Halloween in 2019, considering more than 180 million Americans took part in Halloween festivities in 2018 and 179 million in 2017, up from 171 million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2016 and  157 million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2015. The top costume for children is usually an action hero or superhero, and the top choice for adult women is a witch. Pets are also dressed up as 10 percent of consumers put their dog or cat in a pumpkin costume.

Spending on Halloween is up again to $9 billion in 2018 (about the same as 2017 and up from $8.4 billion in 2016)

A Harris poll cited in this CNBC story says that

  • Younger people (Millenials) are expected to spend $183 each on candy, costumes, decorations and miscellaneous items.
  • Generation X'ers are expected to spend about $70 each and 
  • Baby boomers only $23 each

The 2019 numbers are not yet in, but early forecasts suggest an modest increase over 2018.

In 2018, according to Lendedu.com

  •  The average American spent $185.50 on Halloween in 2018. This figure is up from 2017's: $169.81
  • Within that total expenditure,
    $76.05 (41%) will go towards candy,
    $66.78 (36%) will go towards costumes, and
    $42.67 (23%) will go towards decorations

The National Retail Federation (NRF) puts the figure lower, saying Individuals are planning to spend an average of $86.79, up from 2017’s $86.13.

I can't say which figure is more valid; perhaps, Lendedu uses a per household figure and NRF is per adult consumer?  Intuitively, that could make sense, because I've never spent $185 on Halloween ever...but, if I add up my kid's costumes, decorations and candy, $185 could be plausible.

In 2017, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)

  • 71% of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation handed out candy,
  • 49% decorated
  • 48% wore a costume
  • 46% carved a pumpkin,
  • 35% threw or attended a party
  • 23% visited a haunted house, and
  • 16% dress up their pets (most often as a pumpkin).(ref)

NRF 2016 Halloween Spending chart 

All of these percentages are up substantially from previous years. The 2018 spending should an average $82.93, up from 2015's $74.34  on decorations, candy, costumes and more. And the numbers really add up: according to the NRF survey, Americans are expected to spend $2.6 billion just on Halloween costumes for adults, children and pets. Total spending in 2016 – including candy and decorations – is expected to reach $8.4 billion according to the history of NRF's annual survey. Contrast that with 2010 when consumers spent $66.28 per person—which for a total of approximately $5.8 billion—on Halloween costumes, cards, and candy. And that was up from $56.31 in 2009. To see this data in graphs, click here!

View spending survey results here.

Below are some interesting numbers and statistics regarding Halloween in the United States.  You may also want to see this page for similar information about pumpkin production in the U.S.

The trend in spending by US consumers on Halloween follows the economy in general, but overall is always upwards. Here's the NRF's graph (I think 2016 will end up being UP even more- come back next year to see if I'm right):. 

"Trick or Treat!"

36.1 million - The estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters in 2006 (the most current year for which data is available) children 5 to 13 — across the United States, down 45,000 from 2005. Of course, many other children — older than 13, and younger than 5 — also go trick-or-treating. 

109.6 million - Number of occupied housing units across the nation in 2006  (the most current year for which data is available) all potential stops for trick-or-treaters. 

93% - Percentage of households who consider their neighborhood safe. In addition, 78 percent said they were not afraid to walk alone at night. (Source: Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States, 2003, at 

Jack-O'-Lanterns and Pumpkin Pies

1 billion pounds - Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2006. Illinois led the country by producing 492 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $101 million.  Photo from the U.S. Census Bureau

Where to Spend Halloween?

Some places around the country that may put you in the Halloween mood are:

Candy and Costumes

In 2016, the top selling costumes for children are action/superhero, princess, animal, Batman character and a Star Wars character.

The top five costumes for adults are a Batman character, a witch, and animal, a superhero, and a vampire.
Also popular are, for boys,  Zombies, Minions, Star Wars and for girls Disney's Frozen characters, especially Princess Elena.

Top costumes last year, according to the National Retail Federation:

 

Top 10 Children's Costumes - This Year and Previous Years 
  2017 rank  2015 rank 
2018 Rank  Children Children  Children
1 Princess (generic) 2  
2 Action / Superhero   
Batman  
Character from Star Wars    
Witch    
6 Spiderman   
Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man)   
Ghost   
9 Pirate 3  
10  Disney Princess    
NR Animal (Dog, Cat, etc)   
NR  Wonder Woman  10   
Top 10 Adult Costumes - This Year and Previous Years 
2018 data  2017 rank  2015 rank 
2018 Rank  Adults  Adults  Adults
1 Witch 1
2 Vampire  7
Character from Batman  2 3
4 Pirate  4
5 Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man)
6 DC superhero (excluding Batman, Wonderwoman, and Star Wars)  8 NR 
7 Star Wars character NR  
8 Ghost
9 Superhero (any of them)  6
10 Clown    
NR Villain from a Slasher Movie  9 NR 
NR Animal (Dog, Cat, etc)  3
NR  Wonder Woman  10 NR 

 

  Top 10 Pet Costumes - This Year and Previous Years  
  2018 Rank  Pets 2017 Rank
  1 Pumpkin 1
  2 Hot dog 2
  3 Bumblebee   4
  4 Devil  5
  5 Cat   8
  6 Dog 7 (tie)
  7 Lion 7 (tie)
  8 Character from a Star Wars movie   10
  9 Superhero 9
  10 Ghost 7
  NR Witch   9

2015's top costumes were very similar.

For comparison, here's the list from 2013:

Top Adult Costumes

Top Children's Costumes

Top Pet Costumes

1. Witch

1. Princess

1. Pumpkin

2. Batman character

2. Animal 

2. Hot dog

3. Vampire

3. Batman character

3. (T) Cat

4. Zombie

4. Action/super hero

3. (T) Devil

5. Pirate

5. Spider-Man

4. Witch

6. Action/super hero

6. Witch

5. Superman

7. Superman

7. Zombie

6. Dog

8. Dracula

8. Disney princess

7. Bowties/fancy collar

9. Cat

9. Superman

8. Bee

10. Scary costume/mask

10. Fairy

9. (T) Batman



9. (T) Vampire 



10. Ghost

Sources and references

  1. NRF (National Retail Federation
  2. CNBC
  3. Halloween.” National Confectioners Association. Accessed: September 30, 2010.
  4. Rogers, Nicholas (2002). "Samhain and the Celtic Origins of Halloween". Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, pp.11–21. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516896-8
  5. Roger, Nichola (2002). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford University Press. pp. 28–30. ISBN 0-19-514691-3.
  6. Arnold, Bettina (2001-10-31). "Bettina Arnold – Halloween Lecture: Halloween Customs in the Celtic World"
     
    . Halloween Inaugural Celebration. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee: Center for Celtic Studies. http://www.uwm.edu/~barnold/lectures/holloween.html
     
    . Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  7. Skal, David J. (2002). Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, p.34. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1-58234-230-X.
  8. Pope John Paul, July 1994, conversation with the author in Rome, Italy
  9. US Census Bureau

 


Other fun and useful Halloween information

 

 

 

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