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A record 40.1% of consumers plan to dress up for Halloween this year, according to new data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch.

Many More Consumers Dressing Up
This year, the highest percentage of people in history of the NRF Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, 40.1% plan to wear a costume. That figure is up 20% from 33.4% in 2009.

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No other planned Halloween activity showed anywhere near the type of year-over-year growth of dressing in costume. The most popular activity, handing out candy, will be performed by 72% of consumers. Other popular holiday activities include decorating the home or yard (50%) and carving a pumpkin (46%).

Spending Returns to ’08 Levels
Americans will spend an average $66.28 each on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations, up 17.7% from last year’s per person average of $56.31 and comparable to the $66.54 average spend in 2008. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $5.8 billion this year.

Consumers Have Sweet Tooth
The single largest item in terms of Halloween spending is candy, with consumers planning to spend $1.8 billion, or 31% of total spending. Decorations follow at $1.6 billion, 27.6% of total spending. Adult costume spending will equal $1 billion, or 17.2% of total spending.

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Economy Haunts Consumers
While spending is expected to increase, three out of 10 (30.1%) consumers say the state of the US economy will still impact their Halloween plans, with most of those respondents citing they would spend less overall (86.8%). Others say they will be buying less candy (45.1%), using last year’s decorations and not buying new ones (30.7%), using last year’s costume (18.5%) or making a costume (19.5%). Some plan to cut back on traditional activities such as visiting a haunted house (22.3%).

Young Adults Feel Festive
Young adults will be most likely to participate in Halloween activities with 69.4 percent of 18-24 year olds saying they will dress in costume, the highest of any other age group. Young adults are also more likely than any other age group to throw or attend a party (55.4%) and visit a haunted house (38.6%).

Back-to-School Sales Forecast to Beat Past 2 Years
Increased Halloween spending follows on the heels of 2010 back-to-school per capita family spending that was expected to rise 10.5% from 2009 levels and 2% from 2008 levels, according to other data from the NRF and BIGresearch.

The average US family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school-aged children K-12 this year, 10.5% more than $548.72 last year, and 2% more than $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $21.35 billion, up 22.5% from $17.42 billion in 2009 and 6.2% from $20.1 billion in 2008.

About the Data: The NRF 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season. The poll of 9,291 consumers was conducted from August 31 – September 8, 2010.

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