Americans Spend Billions on Halloween

Americans will spend almost $5 billion on Halloween this year, according to a study by the National Retail Federation. What's driving Americans to spend more?

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

After the last trick or treater toddles away tomorrow, we will have spent nearly $5 billion on Halloween; this according to the National Retail Federation. That's $1 billion more than last year.

Brian Unger investigates the surge in Halloween mania for today's Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: The survey by the NRF, which polled 8,001 consumers, says the spending increase for Halloween is largely due to a surge in - wait for it -celebrating. And how are we celebrating? Well, 43 percent of you will carve a pumpkin. Now, to put that into perspective, that's roughly four percent more than the eligible voters who will vote in this year's midterm election.

With average turnout for midterms around 39 percent, clearly to increase turnout it's time to move the elections up a week and convert the polls to a combination pumpkin carving station and polling station, a place to cast your vote and slice your finger open. Let's hand out candy at the polls, have nerds dressed as Luke Skywalker and drag queens as Judy Garland be poll-watchers. Heck, let's just turn midterm elections into one giant Halloween-themed dress-up where one big party tries to scare voters into keeping the current haunted House of Representatives.

Seventeen percent of you will actually visit a real haunted house this year, but generally speaking, this Halloween season the quickest way to get rid of a scary boogeyman who won't stop begging from you is to not vote for him. As for spending, it's way up this Halloween.

Let's follow the money. The nearly $5 billion consumers plan on spending this holiday breaks down like this: $1.8 billion for costumes. The most popular costume for girls: overwhelmingly a princess. For adult women: overwhelmingly a witch. Apparently nice for girls, only lasts as long as the parents are buying their daughters costumes, because at some point for girls their powers for good turned to nothing but pure evil and making toads of men, who has both boys and adult males overwhelmingly dress up the same, as pirates.

One point five billion dollars will be spent this year for candy, 1.3 billion for decorations, and 260 million for greeting cards. All in all, the entire Halloween bounty is $4.96 billion, more than the gross domestic product of the Republic of Congo.

And the region that leads the U.S. in Halloween spending? The South, with each consumer planning to spend about $60 on average. Who's more likely to dress up? Northeasterners. Go to a party? Westerners. Hand out candy? Midwesterners? Most likely to fall down drunk at a party, wake up in the neighbor's lawn and, well, forget to remove his contact lenses? That data is not yet available.

What we do know is this. Halloween as an occasion to party, to dress up and to decorate becomes less interesting as we age. But what does not diminish over time and in some cases increases with age is the consumption of candy on Halloween, whether we're eating it ourselves or giving it away. Which makes for another frightening thought: the biggest winner in the Halloween money sweepstakes: the nation's carbohydrate industrial complex.

And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger. Happy Halloween.

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