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Cashing In On the Halloween Trend

Total spending for 2nd most popular holiday is expected to reach a record $12.2B
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Halloween Retail Display
NRF says more Americans than ever will be reaching into their wallets and spending a record amount of money to celebrate Halloween this year.

Ranking as the second most popular holiday in the United States, per the National Retail Federation (NRF), Halloween presents a big opportunity for food retailers and brands. This year’s total Halloween spending is expected to reach a record $12.2 billion, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6 billion, according to NRF’s 2023 Halloween survey of 8,084 consumers conducted Sept. 1-6 by Prosper Insights & Analytics. A record number of people (73%) will participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from 69% in 2022.

And consumers are looking to get an early start on their Halloween shopping. NRF’s survey found that nearly half of those celebrating the holiday plan to start shopping before October. This is on par with last year, but up from 33% a decade ago.  

[Read more: "How Amazon and Target Are Approaching the Holiday Selling Season"]

"Younger consumers are eager to begin their Halloween shopping, with more than half of those ages 25-44 planning to shop before or during September,” said EVP of Strategy Phil Rist from Worthington, Ohio-based Prosper.

Like previous years, the top ways consumers are planning to celebrate are handing out candy (68%), decorating their home or yard (53%) or dressing in costume (50%). However, in a return to pre-pandemic norms, more consumers also plan to throw or attend a party (32%) or take their children trick-or-treating (28%).

Per person spending is also up as consumers plan to spend a record $108.24 each, up from the previous record of $102.74 in 2021, according to NRF’s survey. The greatest increase in spending came from costumes, which are more popular than ever.

Sixty-nine percent of those celebrating Halloween plan to buy costumes, a big jump from 67% last year and the highest in the survey’s history. Total spending on costumes is expected to reach a record $4.1 billion, up from $3.6 billion in 2022. 

Halloween decorations, which grew in popularity during the pandemic and continue to resonate with consumers, are expected to reach $3.9 billion in total spending this year, according to NRF.

PowerReviews' "Halloween Spending Trends for 2023" found that the top shopping destination for Halloween décor is big box stores such as Target and Walmart (54% plan to shop there).

Meanwhile, NRF expects candy spending to reach $3.6 billion, an increase from $3.1 billion last year.

According to PowerReviewssurvey, the top shopping destination for Halloween candy is the grocery/supermarket (66% plan to shop there), while 14% will buy candy from a discount store. PowerReviews also found that 87% of consumers are at least somewhat willing to shop for Halloween candy through a brand or vendor they’ve never purchased from before.

To help candy marketers drive sales, shopper intelligence leader Catalina recommends delivering engaging, omnichannel messaging at every point in the shopper journey, via digital, connected TV, out of home, in-store and more. Catalina says the aim should be to sell at the threshold goal in a single shopping trip, then reward shoppers with cash back on their next trip, always measuring shopper behavior and redemption to gain valuable insights.

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