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US Consumers this year are expected to spend an average of $56.31 per person on Halloween, down from $66.54 in 2008, while total spending on the holiday is expected to reach $4.75 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

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The breakout of Halloween spending is as follows:

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Spooky Drop in Spending

Though last year’s Halloween spending rose because consumers sought to escape economic worries and have fun, 2009 presents a very different picture. In what the NRF said may be “one of the spookiest parts of Halloween,” spending will be down across the board because of the recession. Nearly one in three (29.6%) consumers say the state of the US economy will impact their Halloween spending plans:

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Of those who will be affected, the largest majority (88.0%) plan to spend less overall. Others say they will buy less candy (46.5%), use last year’s decorations without buying new ones (35.4%), make costumes instead of purchasing them (16.8%), re-use last year’s costumes (15.8%), and not participate in as many Halloween activities such as haunted houses or fall festivals (26.4%).

As more evidence of just how pervasive the effect of the recession has been, NRF said that fewer people plan to celebrate Halloween this year (62.1% vs. 64.5% last year), and those who are celebrating will participate in fewer activities. According to the survey, one-third (33.4%) will dress in costume, compared with 35.3 percent last year.

With regard to other holiday activities, the number of people carving a pumpkin will? drop (42.4% vs. 44.6% last year), fewer people will throw or attend a party (30.2% vs. 31.1% in 2008), visit a haunted house (17.0% vs. 18.1% in 2008) and hand out candy (71.2% vs. 73.7% last year). Moreover, fewer people plan to decorate their home or yard (47.3% vs. 50.3%).

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Young Adults Scale Back

Young adults, who were last year’s big spenders for Halloween, plan to scale back dramatically this year, NRF said. The survey found that the average 18-24 year-old will spend $68.56 on the holiday, compared with $86.59 last year and $81.91 in 2007.

“With part-time jobs more scarce and parents unable to help out financially, many young adults have been impacted substantially by the economy,” said Phil Rist, EVP of strategic initiatives, BIGresearch. “The overriding theme for Americans’ Halloween celebrations this year will be, ‘How creative can I be, and how little can I spend?'”

Top Costumes: Vampires on the Rise

Despite cutbacks in spending, 47 million adults and 58 million children across the country are still planning to dress up for Halloween, according to NRF, which said that the most popular Halloween costumes will be vampires, princesses, police officers and pirates. Politicians, nurses and Batman appear to be less popular this year.

The survey found that witches – as they have in years past -? take the #1 spot for adult costumes (18.1%), while popular books, movies and television series continue to fuel interest in vampire costumes, which jumped to the #2 spot (4.2%) from third last year.

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Hardest hit this year were nurse costumes, which fell from #5 to #13, and political figures, which didn’t even make the list.

“The departure of both nurses and politicians from the top costumes list could be an indication that Americans would like to shelve the health care reform debate – at least for one night – to have a little bipartisan fun,” said? Mullin. “Pop culture always influences Halloween costumes, and it will be interesting to see how creative Americans can get this year.”

Make-Believe Scores with Kids

For children, make-believe takes the top spot for the fifth year in a row, with 4.5 million princesses expected to flood the streets in pink dresses and tiaras on Halloween. Those handing out candy will also see an estimated two million witches, 1.3 million Spidermen, and a million pirates, pumpkins and vampires.

For pets, a pumpkin will be the top choice, with devil and witch also near the top of the list.

About the survey: The NRF 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season. The surveys were conducted for NRF by BIGresearch. The poll of 8,526 consumers was conducted from September 1-9, 2009. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

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