Fall air has retailers, party-goers gearing up for Halloween

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After a sweltering, torrential, difficult summer, it seems that yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: fall-like weather has finally arrived. Here in Washington D.C., our presidential candidates are hitting the campaign trail while we’re basking in 70-degree temperatures with clear blue skies. For those who prefer the cooler weather to the summer heat, fall means many different things, like scarves and boots, trench coats and jeans, pumpkin patches and apple picking – and most importantly, the hayrides, haunted houses and good times that come with Halloween.

Though not the biggest consumer spending event of the year – statistically behind bigger gift-giving holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter – Halloween is still big business for retailers, and companies are preparing for another big year. Specialty stores are already looking for extra help and pop-up Halloween stores are “popping up” everywhere. Driven by a huge market for adult costumes, haunted houses and extremely advanced designs in Halloween decorations, in many ways Halloween has evolved into a month-long celebration of fall instead of just a night out to score some free candy.

In 2011, more people than ever before said they planned to celebrate Halloween, and we don’t see this trend changing anytime soon. The average person last year planned to spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 in 2010 and the most in the survey’s history. And it wasn’t just people getting in on the spooky action: 14.7 percent of people celebrating Halloween in 2011 said they were going to dress up their pets. That’s a total of $310 million on pint size pumpkins, pirates and hot dog costumes.

When it comes to what types of costumes we’ll see on kids and adults this year, the possibilities are endless. I’m betting the ongoing and intensely watched presidential race will play a large role in people’s costume decisions. Going back to the last presidential election, NRF’s 2008 Top Costumes survey found that more than 570,000 Americans said they would dress up as a political figure.

So what’s ahead for this year? NRF’s 2012 Halloween survey is just around the corner. Keep your eyes peeled on Retail’s BIG Blog and the Halloween Headquarters for more information on this year’s top terrifying trends and Halloween’s most haunting costumes.

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