The Economics of Halloween

The chill in the air, orange leaves, and Tacoma rain that now graces UPS signal that October, and thus spooky season is in full force. As the nation gears up for football season, the World Series, and pumpkin flavoring, children young and old prepare for Halloween, the holiday of holidays.

Although the winter holidays more often elicit ideas of consumerism, Halloween still generates a relatively large surge in household consumption. According to The Balance, last year’s Halloween sales hit $9 billion, just shy of 2017’s $9.1 billion. The Balance sites the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, which found that people spent on average $86.79 per person last year on Halloween expenditures.

How does the holiday cost so much? The Perryman Group estimated that Americans will spend $1.5 billion on candy alone and an additional $1.8 billion for costumes. Agricultural businesses benefit not only from pumpkin sales during October, but the rising popularity of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and haunted houses. Many farms such as Orting’s own Spooner Farms host such events. The popularity spans nationwide. Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin production with around 500 million pounds annually, followed by California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Lastly, horror movies, an October staple, populate theaters during Halloween season. According to CNN, the genre consistently performs well. For example, last year’s Halloween staring Jamie Lee Curtis opened at $33.3 million and 2017’s It opened at $123 million.

While Thanksgiving and Christmas are more commonly associated with consumerism, Halloween kicks off the holiday season with a quick spending spree. Perhaps the scariest part of October isn’t the horror films, but the emptiness of our wallets as we shell out cash for costumes and candy.


About Rachel Kadoshima

Rachel is a senior economics and French language student

2 Replies to “The Economics of Halloween”

  1. Very interesting, Rachel. I wonder how the flooding here in the Pac NW affect pumpkin prices this year. I heard stories about farmers in Carnation watching their pumpkins get picked up by rising waters and float away on the Snoqualmie River. (I wonder if there were any downstream pumpkin jams?)

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