Sep 22, 2020
Consumers celebrate Halloween despite COVID-19

Like many holidays this year, Americans are planning to celebrate Halloween despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The autumnal holiday may look a little different this year, but consumers are finding ways to safely mark the occasion.

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, more than 148 million U.S. adults plan to participate in Halloween-related activities. Among those celebrants, safe at-home activities ranked highest: 53% plan to decorate their homes, 46% plan to carve a pumpkin and 18% will dress up their pet.

“Consumers continue to place importance on celebrating our traditional holidays, even if by untraditional standards,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO for NRF said. “Retailers are prepared to meet the increased demand for seasonal décor, costumes and other items that allow families the opportunity to observe Halloween safely.”

More than three-quarters say the virus is impacting their celebration plans, with overall participation down to 58 percent. Plans for parties, trick-or-treating, handing out candy and visiting haunted houses have all dropped, due largely to the fact that some activities do not easily adhere to social distancing. Even so, 17% say they plan to celebrate virtually.

Consumer spending is expected to reach $8.05 billion, down slightly from $8.78 billion in 2019, due to the drop in participation. However, consumers are spending more on the activities that will ensure a memorable holiday. Those who are celebrating plan to spend $92.12 on average compared with $86.27 in 2019. Consumers are doing what they can to still make it a special event by spending a little more on home decorations, candy and greeting cards.

Halloween 2020 Expected Spending from NRF
Image courtesy of NRF

“Some of the most interesting data concerns younger generations, consumers ages 18-24,” Phil Rist, executive vice president for Prosper Insights said. “Although fewer are celebrating this year, the ones who are aren’t shying away from Halloween-related purchases, spending $11 more on average, primarily on decorations and candy.”

With extra time on consumers’ hands, Halloween shopping is starting earlier with four in 10 planning to begin their shopping in September or earlier. While fewer might be heading to stores, the top shopping destinations remain the same: discount stores, specialty Halloween stores, grocery stores and online retailers. Shoppers continue to prefer online shopping as a safe and convenient option during the pandemic. This year, 30% plan to make their Halloween purchases online, compared with 25% last year.

NRF image of Halloween 2020 Top Costumes
Image courtesy of NRF

Costumes Ranked: Children

More than 2.7 million children plan to dress as their favorite princess character, more than 1.8 million as Spiderman, more than 1.6 million as their favorite superhero, more than 1.3 million as a ghost, and another 1.3 million will dress as Batman.

Costumes Ranked: Adults

Nearly 70% of adults planning to dress up already know what their costume will be this year. More than 4.6 million adults plan to dress like a witch, more than 1.7 million as a vampire, more than1.3 million as a cat, more than 1.1 million as Batman, and more than 1 million as a ghost.

Costumes Ranked: Pets

Popularity for pet costumes continues this year: 10% of pet lovers will dress their animal in a pumpkin costume, while 6% will dress their cat or dog as a hot dog, 5% as a superhero and 3% as a cat.

The survey asked 7,644 consumers about Halloween shopping plans. It was conducted Sep. 1-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1% points.

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