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As Economy Impacts Halloween, Americans Get Creative

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For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202)783-7971

As Economy Impacts Halloween, Americans Get Creative
--Shoppers to Spend $56.31 on Holiday from $66.54 Last Year--

Washington, September 29, 2009 – One of the spookiest parts of Halloween this year may be the amount people plan to spend on their celebrations. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, consumers are expected to spend an average of $56.31 on Halloween, down from $66.54 last year. Total spending on the holiday is expected to reach $4.75 billion.*

Nearly one in three (29.6%) consumers say the state of the U.S. economy will impact their Halloween spending plans. Of those who will be affected, the largest majority (88.0%) plan to spend less overall. Others say they will be buying less candy (46.5%), using last year’s decorations without buying new ones (35.4%), making costumes instead of purchasing them (16.8%), reusing last year’s costumes (15.8%), and not participating in as many Halloween activities such as haunted houses or fall festivals (26.4%).**

“The economy has caught up to Halloween this year,” said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO, National Retail Federation. “Since retailers know that Americans will be looking to celebrate on a budget, there’s no doubt we will see creative costume and decorating ideas in every price point imaginable.”

As more evidence of just how pervasive the effect of the recession has been, fewer people plan to celebrate Halloween this year (62.1% vs. 64.5% last year), and those who are celebrating will participate in fewer activities. According to the survey, one-third (33.4%) will dress in costume, compared to 35.3 percent last year. The number of people carving a pumpkin will also drop (42.4% compared to 44.6% last year). Additionally, fewer people will throw or attend a party (30.2% vs. 31.1% in 2008), visit a haunted house (17.0% vs. 18.1% in 2008) and hand out candy (71.2% vs. 73.7% last year). Even with the advent of life-sized yard decorations, which have become immensely popular in recent years, fewer people plan to decorate their home or yard (47.3% vs. 50.3%).

Young adults, who were last year’s big spenders for Halloween, plan to scale back dramatically this year. According to the survey, the average 18-24 year-old will spend $68.56 on the holiday, compared to $86.59 last year and $81.91 in 2007.

“With part-time jobs more scarce and parents unable to help out financially, many young adults have been impacted substantially by the economy,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “The overriding theme for Americans’ Halloween celebrations this year will be, ‘How creative can I be, and how little can I spend?’”

The survey found consumers plan to spend an average of $20.75 on costumes, which includes children’s and pets’ costumes; $17.99 on candy; $14.54 on decorations and $3.02 on greeting cards.

The NRF 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch. The poll of 8,526 consumers was conducted from September 1-9, 2009. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com


* Total spending is based on extrapolation of population 18+. Total spending estimates for previous years are not comparable.

** This is the first year the question about how the economy would impact spending was asked. As a result, comparable numbers are not available.