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Recession Threats Haven’t Scared Off Halloween Revelers, Data Shows

Halloween enthusiasts refuse to have their whimsical impulses dashed by the threat of recession, and are shelling out near-record-breaking amounts for spooky garb and other holiday knick-knacks.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, American shoppers are set to spend an average $86.27 this year on ghostly gear. That’s just a hair less than last year’s record average of $86.79.

While retail often suffers under the threat of an economic downturn, this year’s Halloween projections actually represent the third-highest in the NRF survey’s 15-year history. On the whole, U.S. consumers will spend $8.8 billion on costumes and décor, down from $9 billion in 2018.

The majority (68 percent) of the survey’s 172 million respondents said they plan to celebrate the holiday, down from 175 million last year.

“Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Unsurprisingly, social sharing platforms are a key driver for aesthetic inspiration, though men and women gravitate to different channels. A quarter (25 percent) of women shoppers cited Pinterest as their preferred browsing destination, while nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of men said that YouTube was their site of choice.

Instagram is also a significant source, with 15 percent of men and 14 percent of women saying they scrolled through the app for ideas.

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Though online options are the clear winner when it comes to exploring options (cited by 35 percent of consumers), more than a quarter (28 percent) said they preferred to browse in-store. A sizeable contingent (20 percent) of shoppers said friends and family ultimately influenced their creative visions.

Despite copping to extensive research, American adults have settled on some deeply basic options. The survey found that 5 million adults plan to dress as witches, 2 million as vampires, 1.8 million as superheroes, 1.5 million as a pirates and 1.4 million as zombies.

Kids, on the other hand, are all about emulating larger-than-life characters from Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. While 3.1 million children plan to dress up as princesses, the vast majority of under-18 respondents said they would dress as superheroes (2.4 million as miscellaneous caped crusaders, 2 million as Spider Man, 1.5 million as Avengers characters and 1.4 million as Batman).

At Midwest retailer Meijer, Toy Story, Avengers and Frozen-inspired costumes have reigned supreme for kids, while adults are opting for do-it-yourself costumes and effortless options like pullovers, ponchos and onesies.

Across the pond, British consumers mired in Brexit anxiety are feeling much differently about Halloween revelry and spending.

While high street retailers were undoubtedly angling for a boon in profits this October, their hopes are likely rapidly deflating.

This year’s spending will be more of a trick than a treat, according to data analytics company GlobalData. The holiday’s spending is projected to grow just 0.6 percent this year—compared with 2 percent growth in 2018.

Halloween trimmings and costumes generally make up more than half of Halloween spend in the U.K., which is projected to garner 467.3 million pounds this fall. But unlike in years past, Hallows’ Eve revelers are looking to reuse old garb or scrounge for cheaper options. The costume category is expected to grow by just 1.1 percent this year, compared with 3.4 percent in 2018.

“The Brexit deadline of October 31 will have a significant impact on Halloween this year,” Zoe Mills, retail analyst at GlobalData, said.

“U.K. consumers have been investing more in this occasion over the past couple of years, but will now be limiting their spend,” she added.

There could be a glimmer of opportunity for value and discount retailers, she said, but those sales will likely be on sweets for trick or treating.

Along with economic concerns, British consumers are also contending with an increased awareness of environmental impact, Mills added, pointing to the commercial holiday’s high amount of plastic waste as a deterrent for shoppers.

“Greater environmental concerns will impact the market this year… and retailers must highlight their own thoughtfulness regarding this topic by highlighting sustainable solutions such as biodegradable glitter and non-plastic accessories such as wooden broomsticks,” she said.

Apparel retailers can also entice adult shoppers by creating how-to guides showing them how to use everyday clothing for costumes, to ensure that pieces are used more than just once, Mills advised.