Thursday, October 28th, 2010
By Amy Kronenberger
Halloween in a scary recession
  As scary as Halloween might be, that's nothing compared to an economy trying to dig itself out of a recession.
But local retailers say the season for ghouls and goblins has led to a positive turn in sales, giving hope for the future.
The National Retail Federation's 2010 Halloween Consumer and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch of Worthington, found that Americans are expected to spend an average of $66.28 a person on Halloween garb and goodies, up from last year's $56.31. Costumes are expected to make up the largest part of a person's budget with an average of $23.37. Candy comes in second at $20.29.
"In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes," National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. "This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday."
Locally, Chris Carroll, store manager of Walmart in Celina, has seen a boost in sales from last year. Candy sales are up 25 percent over 2009, and costume sales are 15 percent better than the rest of the company, he said.
Carroll said he continues to see more and more improvement in retail sales as the year progresses. He is looking forward to a good Christmas season.
"We're still not back to where we were in 2008, but we're close," he said.
However, Steve Boudreau, store manager of Ben's in Coldwater, said he has not seen any marked improvement. So far, sales have stayed about average over the last three years, he said.
"People are obviously more conservative because of the recession," Boudreau said. "We've had better years, but we've also had worse years."
Dollar General store manager Brenda Kuhn said her store has actually not been affected by the recession.
"Our sales have definitely gone up over the last year and have consistently gone up over the last several years," Kuhn said. "Dollar General sales as a company is up, as well."
According to NFR's 2010 Halloween Consumer and Actions Survey, 40 percent of those surveyed plan to wear a costume this year, up from 33 percent last year. Additionally, 33 percent will throw or attend a party; nearly three-quarters will hand out candy; 46 percent will carve a pumpkin; 20 percent will go to a haunted house; 31 percent will take their children trick or treating; and 50 percent plan to decorate their house or yard.
"Though Halloween spending will be much more robust than a year ago, consumers will still err on the side of caution," Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for BIGresearch, said in a press release. "Americans are excited about Halloween but are still being frugal and pinching their pennies where they can."
NRF's survey was a poll of 9,291 American adults, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8.
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