Year in and year out, Halloween is one of the most popular consumer holidays on the calendar. This year’s spooky holiday, however, is expected to find fewer ghosts and goblins celebrating, and fewer dollars being spent by those who do.
Roughly 158 million people plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, down from 170 million who celebrated last year. And this year’s celebrants will each spend an average of $73 on costumes, candy and decor, down from nearly from $80 each in 2013.
In Columbia, many celebrants say they plan to continue their traditional Halloween haunts – the end game simply being to have fun. At the Halloween Express store on Harbison Boulevard this week, shoppers were honing their final lists amid a well-stocked array of merchandise choices.
By moving back to the Harbison location after a year’s absence, the Halloween Express store multiplied its square footage, said Trey Holleman, assistant store manager. There’s more display space for browsing and buying, and oodles more storage space for inventory.
Here are a few Halloween shoppers who shared some of their celebration plans.
Jennifer Sandsted, Irmo
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? Approximately $150-$200.
How much do you normally spend on Halloween? “Normally, we just raid a closet and try to put something together.”
What are you shopping for this year? “Costumes for the whole family. We’re looking for superhero costumes for an adult party, and the kids want to dress like us, so they’re going to be superheroes as well. Captain America, Wolverine. Looking for a girl’s Wolverine (costume).”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “Every Halloween we have a group of kids over to our house. We do a chili dinner and walk around the community together, trick-or-treating. We have never done it before (the party for the adults, which was being held this weekend), so we’re just excited to do something a little different – be like kids ourselves. The dressing up, just being with the friends, is fun.”
Jessica Jackson, Irmo
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? “I’m budgeting this year. We’re just going to thrift shops right now, finding little things to put together to make a costume.”
How much do you normally spend on Halloween? “About $70, depending on the costume, of course, and the price of that.”
What are you shopping for this year? “Costumes. My daughter wants to be a zebra this year. Me and her daddy are going to be vampires, which is really easy. In the past, I have been a cat, Robin Hood, the queen of hearts.”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “You never get (too) old for dressing up and just being silly. Of course with her (her daughter), it’s candy and getting to dress up, too. It’s just fun – something to do. We’re going to some trunk-or-treats at out church, and we’ll take her door-to-door. Me and her daddy have a party or two to go to, but that’s more of an adult party.”
Ann Chestnut, Lexington
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? “We’re not doing the candy this year, so that will help. I’m hoping to keep it under $50, for just me and (daughter) Hannah, (10).”
How much do you normally spend on Halloween? “We try to spend a little as possible, because it’s just one time in the year. And then, we work with each costume and make it work. But this year, with her Spanish class, she learned a lot (about Day of the Dead), and she wanted to do that.”
What are you shopping for this year? “We’re looking for Day of the Dead costumes – something she learned in Spanish (class). We’re going to get dressed up and go to some church carnivals.”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “We’ve always celebrated Halloween. We always go trick-or-treating. It’s just been a tradition – something we’ve always done. An outing. We just go to a couple of church outings and a couple of neighborhoods in Lexington, with family and friends and have fun. And dress up. Everybody loves to dress up.”
Gordon McKeown, Lexington
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? “Probably $100 or more. It’s me, my wife, 9-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter.”
What are you shopping for this year? “Shopping (at the time) for makeup for my zombie costume. My wife and I have a big Halloween party every year – this will be our 10th year having it. We’re probably going to have 50 or 60 people at it. There’s a big costume contest – a lot of fun. Then we’ll go trick-or-treating with the kids.”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “It’s my favorite holiday. It’s fun. It’s our big social event of the year, with our big party. It just gives us an opportunity to be creative in our costumes. Creativity is a big part of it.”
Maggie Vaules, Forest Acres
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? “Probably $45 or so. Makeup, stockings, wigs.”
How much do you normally spend on Halloween? “It used to be more, maybe $100 dollars a year, when my son was younger.”
What are you shopping for this year? “I’m shopping for face makeup. I sing with a band, and we’re going to paint our faces for our show. We’re going to do sort of a Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “It’s just fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to dress up?”
Sonya Haines, Columbia
How much will you spend this Halloween holiday? “Party included, I’d say we spend about $500 to $600. Food, drinks, costumes – we have a big party.”
How much do you normally spend on Halloween? “About $500 to $600.”
What are you shopping for this year? “Costumes and accessories (adult and children) for our Halloween party. The adult costumes are ’80s-themed. Eighties rock stars. ZZ Top. The kids’ costumes are more cartoons and videos themed. Skylanders, Star Wars.”
Why do you celebrate Halloween? “You know, it’s just a fun time to dress up and be silly. To be something you’re never going to be. I’m never going to be an ’80s rock star. So ....”