Americans plan to spend more on Halloween, a sign of what's to come during the holidays

Stephanie Asymkos
·Reporter
·3 min read

While fewer Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, those who are, intend to splurge — especially parents.

The overindulgence is likely to spill over to the rest of the holidays this year, experts said, as Americans hope to offset the disappointment of 2020.

“A lot of it is being driven by families with kids,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation (NRF). “They're more likely to be celebrating and are more likely to be making plans. They want to make a special moment for their family.”

Read more: Here's how much more you’re paying to get that pumpkin spice

Only 58% of Americans are celebrating Halloween, according to a new survey of 7,644 consumers from the NRF, down from 68% last year. But those who are plan to spend an average of $92, up $6 from last year.

A person pushes a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins, after taking part in pumpkin picking at Sunnyfields Farm in Totton, Hampshire, ahead of Halloween. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person pushes a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins, after taking part in pumpkin picking at Sunnyfields Farm in Totton, Hampshire, ahead of Halloween. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

At the heart of this year’s overspending on Halloween is parents’ desire to maintain a tradition for their children in 2020, according to a separate survey from LendingTree of 1,034 people. Nearly 3 in 4 parents with kids under 18 said they’re spending more on Halloween this year.

‘Looking for different ways to bring some of that spooky scary fun’

Americans are also prepared to spend more on Halloween-related purchases that have fallen out of popularity in recent years like home decorations and greeting cards.

Read more: Here's how the pandemic has changed our feelings about shopping

Celebrants have also swapped pastimes like haunted houses, hay or tractor rides, and trick-or-treating that carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure to more individualized activities like decorating their homes —cited by 53% of respondents — and pumpkin carving, which 46% plan to do.

People shop for Halloween items at a home improvement retailer store in Alhambra, California on September 9, 2020. Halloween and Christmas are two of the top spending holidays in the United States but retailers are spooked by Halloween this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Los Angeles County warning that trick-o-treat is not recommended and advises strongly against it. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
People shop for Halloween items at a home improvement retailer store in Alhambra, California on September 9, 2020. Halloween and Christmas are two of the top spending holidays in the United States but retailers are spooked by Halloween this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Los Angeles County warning that trick-o-treat is not recommended and advises strongly against it. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

“People are looking for different ways to bring some of that spooky scary fun into their community, even if it might not be a traditional trick-or-treating event,” Cullen said.

‘A good barometer’ for the holidays

Cullen said Halloween serves as a “good barometer” for how consumers and retailers will approach the upcoming winter holiday season.

“A lot of those emotions behind why they're celebrating and what they're doing will also play out through the winter holidays when we look at how people are going to recreate traditions or how they're going to look to celebrate with family and friends,” Cullen said.

On Wednesday, Adobe Analytics forecasts that U.S. online holiday sales will total $189 billion, up 33% year over year. If that happens, sales would “shatter” all previous records and equal to two years of growth in one season, according to Adobe.

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Wells Fargo put out another optimistic forecast, estimating overall holiday sales would increase 9%, making it the largest gain on record.

"We want some cheer, all of us. We are done with this,” said Sree Menon, COO of Tophatter, an auction website, noting she thinks parents will overcompensate this year on gifts.

“[It’s] about time to celebrate and send off 2020 on a positive note and welcome 2021,” Menon said. “Hopefully it will be much better than — anything can be better than this."

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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