- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Halloween must not be so scary anymore.

Americans are expected to spend $5 billion, 50 percent more than last year, on candy, decorations and costumes for the trick-or-treat day this year, according to a study released yesterday by the National Retail Federation (NRF), a D.C. trade group.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans plan to celebrate Allhallows Eve this year, a significant increase from last year, when half of Americans celebrated the day.

“In recent years, we’ve gradually seen it become a seasonal holiday. It’s no longer just a couple days you see families decorating their front porches and homes,” said Kathy Grannis, an NRF spokeswoman. “It’s definitely become one of the holidays we like to look at as spanning across all niches, all sectors of the retail industry.”

People spooked by the day in the past appear to be coming around. About three-quarters of people plan to pass out candy and one-third plan to dress in costume, according to the study. About 17 percent of people plan to celebrate the day with a trip to a haunted house.

The average consumer plans to spend $59.06 on Halloween, whether on candy, costumes or decorations, according to the NRF. Last year, the average person spent $48.48.

Julie Shymansky, 31, of Kensington, said she expects to spend nearly $200 to $300 on Halloween merchandise, between her house and yard.

“I’m a decorator. I love to decorate. Every holiday, I have something out,” she said while Halloween shopping at Target in Wheaton yesterday.

She said her neighbors take a “Clark Griswold” — from the National Lampoon movies — approach to decorating.

“Everybody’s trying to outdo everybody else. Every year, something new comes out and they go get it.”

For some, Halloween means more than just candy and costumes.

For 21-year-old Yulissa Ozorio of Hyattsville, Oct. 31 is day for great celebration.

“I like it. If you have to spend some money to buy something, I will do it. Because it’s my birthday — so it means something to me. And I want people, when they come to my birthday, to see, like, ‘Wow — where did she get that?’”

Retailers are expanding their Halloween selection in response.

“Our Halloween merchandise has grown from the past years,” said Jami Arms, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “In the stores this year, we have products for a wider customer base.”

While Wal-Mart still has child-friendly treats and decorations, it also has products targeted toward adults who want to decorate and more “sophisticated” items such as a cast-iron tea-light tree.

Halloween is the second-biggest decorating day after Christmas. About 67 percent of Americans plan to purchase decorations this year, up from 60 percent last year.

Sixty percent of Americans plan to buy costumes this year — up from 53 percent last year. And they will spend an average of $21.57.

“Consumers see Halloween as a seasonal celebration to bridge the gap between the end of summer and the winter holidays,” said Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of NRF. “Halloween offers a little something for everyone and, this year, people of all ages will be joining in the fun.”

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