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2016 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. It looks like about 171 million people in the US will celebrate Hallooween in 2016, considering more than 157 million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2015.

Spending - $8.4 billion in 2016

In 2015, 70% of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation handed out candy, 47% carved a pumpkin, 65% to 70% of 18 to 40 year old adults wore a costume, 36% visited a haunted house, 52% threw or attended a party and 20% dress up their pets.(ref) All of these percentages are up substantially from previous years. The 2016 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. Constrast 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):.

NRF 2016 Halloween Spending chart 

Photo Courtesy of the Herald Union

"Trick or Treat!"

36.1 million - The estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters in 2006 — 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 — 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 PiesPhoto from the U.S. Census Bureau

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. 

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 costomes 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:

 2015's top costumes were very similar. see the chart below:

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. Halloween.” National Confectioners Association. Accessed: September 30, 2010.
  2. 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
  3. Roger, Nichola (2002). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Oxford University Press. pp. 28-30. ISBN 0-19-514691-3.
  4. 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. . Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  5. Skal, David J. (2002). Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween, p.34. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1-58234-230-X.
  6. Pope John Paul, July 1994, conversation with the author in Rome, Italy
  7. US Census Bureau


Other fun and useful Halloween information