It’s that time of year: aisles of grocery stores are dedicated to bags of candy the size of a small child, kids and adults alike are scrambling to find the perfect Halloween costume, and not to mention, Halloween is on a Friday this year, meaning festivities will be rampant for all ages. Nobody can deny that Halloween is one of the most profound pinnacles of consumerism. In fact, candy consumption is at an all time high at this time, beating out Christmas, Easter, and even Valentines Day. Americans spend almost $2 billion on candy at Halloween, making up a whopping 8% of U.S. candy sales for the entire year. The average U.S. household spends $44 on Halloween candy, and the top annual candy sale day is tomorrow—October 28th!
Interestingly, Halloween candy sales don’t seem to be affected by the state of the economy at the time. At the height of the recession in 2008, when stocks plummeted 4.4%, October candy sales increased .03%. As you can see in this graphic, candy sales continue to increase despite any change in stock changes. According to neuroscientist Eric Stice, there are psychological reasons why candy sales are virtually recession-proof. We find candy even more appealing during hard times, and that eating candy feels more rewarding while in a more depressed emotional state. An increase in blood glucose is associated with an improved ability to regulate emotions and cope with stress—case in point, nobody eats a salad after losing a job.
Of course, candy is only a fraction of a person’s aggregate Halloween spending. While Americans spent a total of $1.9 billion on candy, they spent $2.12 billion on costumes, $1.65 billion on decorations, and $350 million on Halloween themed greeting cards. Americans spend more money on adult costumes than kid costumes by a margin of $.3 billion dollars, because we truly are all kids at heart. In 2012, Americans spent $1.4 billion on adult costumes and $1.1 billion on children costumes. Of course, we can’t forget about our loving pets. In 2011, Americans spent a total of $310 million on costumes for their pets, with the most popular costume being a pumpkin. That seems like an extremely high amount of money to spend on something that will probably be angrily torn apart by the end of the night, but to each his own. Surprisingly, men spend more money on costumes than women. In fact, men spend an average of $90.11 on Halloween-related items, while women cut their budget to around $70.11.
No matter if it’s the best of times or the worst of times, Halloween will always be a holiday that we will cherish in our hearts and with our wallets.