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Two-thirds of US adults plan to celebrate Halloween this year, although dressing in costume is not a popular choice, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

Better to Give than Receive
Poll results indicate that of the 66% of US adults planning to celebrate Halloween this year (Sunday, October 31), the highest percentage (57%) will celebrate by giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. Giving out candy is by far the most popular overall Halloween activity, as the next-most-popular activity, putting up Halloween decorations, will only draw 31% participation.

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Although giving out candy is the most popular activity with every age group between 18-34 and 55-plus, it steadily increases in popularity from a low of 42% with the youngest set to 70% with the oldest set. Conversely, 33% of 18-to-34-year-olds will watch scary movies, compared to only 7% of those 55 and older.

Somewhat surprisingly, only 22% of adults plan to observe Halloween in the time-honored fashion of dressing up in costume. This figure is highest among 18-to-34-year-olds (33%) and lowest among adults 55 and older (11%).

Women Like Halloween More than Men
Halloween appreciation skews female. While 51% of all US adults agree Halloween is an overhyped holiday, this percentage rises to 55% of men and falls to 47% of women. Similarly, while only 32% of all adults think only children should dress up for Halloween, 37% of men and 27% of women think this way.

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Women are also more likely to say Halloween is their favorite holiday (31% of women, 25% of men, 28% overall). However, men are less likely to say trick-or-treating is very dangerous for kids (39% of men, 43% of women, 41% overall).

TV/Film Character Costumes Most Popular
Overall, the most popular costume with adults this year is a non-cartoon TV or film character, followed by a witch/wizard and cartoon character. Adults 18-to-34 prefer TV/film character costumes, while those 35-44 prefer superhero costumes (ninth overall). Forty-five-to-54-year-olds favor witch/wizard costumers, and 55-plus adults prefer to dress as pumpkins (10th overall).

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Halloween Spending Returns to ’08 Levels
Americans will spend an average $66.28 each on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations, up about 18% from last year’s per person average of $56.31 and comparable to the $66.54 average spend in 2008, according to recent figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $5.8 billion this year.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 25 and 27, 2010 among 2,041 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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