Halloween spending expected to grow as retailers look to cash in on holiday

MONTREAL – Halloween holds no fear for retailers.

In fact, rather than spooking the economy, all those little (and sometimes not so little) ghosts and goblins scare up monthly spending on tasty treats that is second only to December and the Christmas season.

And with the day falling on a Friday this year, interest will likely peak as both children and adults go looking for costumes and decorations as well.

Retail consultant John Winter sees Halloween spending growing this year.

“Retail sales are not bad at the moment and anyways the expenditure is not high on any of these items and so I expect it to be more popular than last year,” Winter said in an interview.

BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic says a drop in gasoline prices will save consumers a few dollars that will likely translate into higher retail sales leading up to Halloween.

“The recent slide in oil prices should provide a boost to consumer spending away from the gas station,” he said.

Statistics Canada said Canadians doled out $381 million on candy, confectionery and snack foods last October, leaving the month second only to the nearly $451 million spent in December.

And the spending doesn’t stop there.

Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians plan to celebrate Halloween this year even though one in eight believe it is getting more expensive, according to a poll conducted by digital coupon website RetailMeNot.

About one-third of respondents said they planned to spend more than $50, with spending highest in Alberta and Ontario.

The biggest spenders are adults aged 18 to 34 who expected to fork out $75 on average this year, including $25 on costumes, said the online poll of 1,010 Angus Reid Forum panelists conducted Oct. 1-2.

Nearly half of those surveyed — including 53 per cent of those polled in Quebec and Alberta — said the pressure to have the best candy is prompting people to spend more.

Meanwhile, the survey indicated half of Canadians planned to purchase costumes, with Albertans the biggest buyers and British Columbians the most likely to make their own outfits.

Only about half of respondents planned to give out candy to trick-or-treating children knocking at their doors, while 56 per cent said they would buy candy for themselves. One quarter admitted to having taken sugar loot from a child’s stash.

The RetailMeNot survey also found that 32 per cent of respondents planned to attend a party involving alcohol, with spooky costumes being the most popular.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

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