Oct 1, 2019
Social media influences near-record Halloween spending

U.S. consumers are looking to social media for Halloween costume and decoration ideas as spending is expected to reach a near-record amount this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Shoppers say they will spend an average $86.27, down just slightly from last year’s record $86.79. That works out to $8.8 billion in total spending, down from last year’s $9 billion. This year’s total is expected to be the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history.

“Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO for NRF. “Retailers expect to have another strong Halloween season and have stocked up on candy, decorations and the season’s most popular costumes.”

Online search remains the top source of Halloween inspiration, cited by 35% of consumers surveyed, followed by browsing in stores at 28%, and ideas from friends and family at 20%. Inspiration from social media has increased across several platforms since 2015. Pinterest was cited by 18%, up from 13% in 2015; 14 percent cited both YouTube (up from 8%) and Instagram (up from 7 percent).

Men and women prefer different social media channels for Halloween inspiration. Pinterest was the choice of 25% of women but only 12% of men, while YouTube was cited by 19% of men and only 10 percent of women. Instagram was almost evenly split at 15% of men and 14 percent of women.

According to the survey, consumers plan to spend $3.2 billion on costumes, $2.6 billion on candy, $2.7 billion on decorations and $390 million on greeting cards.

Among those celebrating, 69% plan to hand out candy, 49% plan to decorate their home or yard, 47% will dress in costume, 44% will carve a pumpkin, 32% will throw or attend a party, 29% will take their children trick-or-treating, 22% will visit a haunted house and 17% will dress their pets in costume.

To buy Halloween merchandise, 42% of shoppers will go to a discount store, 36% to a specialty Halloween or costume store, 25% will shop online, another 25% will go to a grocery store and 23% will visit a department store.

Top Costumes

“Halloween celebrations are primarily for children, and we see many of the same costume choices year after year,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president for Prosper Insights. “Grownups who celebrate may be looking for new ideas, but for children, princesses and superheroes are perennial favorites.”


  • Princess – 7.9%
  • Superhero – 6%
  • Spider-Man – 5.2%
  • Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man) – 3.9%
  • Batman – 3.5%
  • Witch – 3.3%
  • Ghost – 2.8%
  • Vampire – 2.2%
  • Frozen (Elsa, Anna) – 2.2%
  • Pirate – 2.1%


  • Witch – 8.9%
  • Vampire – 3.6%
  • Superhero – 3.1%
  • Pirate – 2.7%
  • Zombie – 2.5%
  • Ghost – 2%
  • Avengers character (excluding Spider-Man) – 2%
  • Princess – 1.9%
  • Cat – 1.8%
  • Spider-Man – 1.7%


The survey found that 29 million people plan to dress their pets in costume for Halloween.

  • Pumpkin – 9.3%
  • Hot dog – 7.2%
  • Superhero – 7.2%
  • Bumble Bee – 3.9%
  • Cat – 3.2%
  • Witch – 2.5%
  • Lion – 2.2%
  • Dog – 2.1%
  • Devil – 2%
  • Shark – 1.7%

The survey of 7,419 consumers was conducted Sept. 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2% points.

Social Connections

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