SCARES UP SALES!
Surveys show growing adult interest becomes a treat for retailers
by Staff Writer Rob Lenihan
October 13, 1999
NEW YORK (CNNfn) - From its origins as an ancient Celtic holiday,
Halloween has grown into a $5 billion industry. Retailers have come to value this day of
ghosts and goblins as an important link between the back-to-school and Christmas holiday
A survey by the National Retail Federation cites growing adult interest as a key
ingredient to the bubbling economic cauldron.
The NRF said candy sales are expected to reach $1.8 billion, while costumes pull in $1.5
billion and home decorations, pumpkins, greeting cards and other party essentials will
account for as much as $2.5 billion.
NRF President Tracy Mullin said the office place is the next frontier for Halloween
partying -- and expenditures.
"The move toward a more pleasant working environment has gained momentum as a
way to improve morale and increase productivity," Mullin said in a statement.
Of course you may want to check with your boss before you show up for work in that Tinky
Winky outfit. But the numbers say more adults are indeed dressing up this year.
According to the second annual American Express Retail Index on Halloween shopping, 28
percent of the adults asked said they plan to put on a costume this year, an 8 percent
boost over last year.
The index found one in four adults said they liked Halloween because they enjoy being able
to celebrate it with their children as well as their friends.
"Halloween is a great way to bridge the gap between the back-to-school and holiday
shopping seasons," said Valerie Soranno, American Express vice president and general
manager of retail industries, in a statement.
John Bisio, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), the world's No. 1 retailer, agrees,
noting the growing interest in such items as adult costumes, party favors and other such
"It certainly helps things along for us," he said.
What are you supposed to be?
So will be it pirate or devil? Hunchback or phantom? Count Dracula or Alan Greenspan? The
American Express survey found the witch to be the most popular costumes for adults,
followed by movie monsters and then a fictional film character.
In its own Halloween survey, Macerich Co. (MAC), a Santa Monica real estate investment
trust that owns over 50 malls in the United States, found that more adults would rather
dress up as superspy Austin Powers than that other mojo maven, Bill Clinton.
The survey found kids siding up with the Pokemon game and TV show characters, and other
polls say the "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" bunch should make a
In addition, the Macerich survey said the majority of consumers do their Halloween
shopping in early- to mid-October. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they plan to
decorate their house in either Halloween or fall decor.
What, candy corn again?
What treats do trick-or-treaters like to eat when they trick-or-treat? The answer is
important, since the American Express survey found that consumers will spend an average of
$30 -- the largest portion of their Halloween budget -- on candy. Costumes came in second,
by the way, followed by pumpkins and decorations.
Among the most popular Halloween treats adults plan to give out this year is Snickers, a
Mars Inc. product that happens to be the No. 1 selling candy bar in the United States.
Candy corn followed, but, interestingly enough, the Macerich survey found only 7 percent
of those on the receiving end actually wanted the stuff, indicating that people on both
sides of the doorbell should probably compare notes.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a product of Hershey Foods Corp. (HSY), was one of the more
popular treats adults like to give.
"We've seen a major change in the way Halloween is viewed," said Hershey
spokesman Mike Kinney. "It's become more of a family holiday with less emphasis on
the black cats and witches and more on the fun aspects."
Tootsie Rolls, made by Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. (TR), bats -- get it?, bats -- in the
But whatever your candy choice, be sure to enjoy it this Halloween. Remember, it's got to
a lot better than whatever the Celts had to eat.
CNN America, INC.