Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls may be frightening, but the COVID-19 pandemic is even scarier, making consumers look for safe ways to celebrate the holiday in 2020. Nevertheless, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO Matthew Shay, "consumers continue to place importance on celebrating our traditional holidays, even if by untraditional standards."

Key Takeaways

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely putting a damper on Halloween celebrations in 2020.
  • Nevertheless, consumers in the United States are projected to spend $8.05 billion on the ghoulish holiday.
  • Stay-at-home activities, such as home decoration and pumpkin carving, have risen in popularity this year.

How Much Money Is Spent on Halloween

While more than 148 million adults in the United States still plan to celebrate Halloween, participation is down to 58% (from 70% in 2018 and 68% in 2019), with more than three-quarters of those saying that the virus has impacted how they will celebrate. Homebound activities are the most popular: 53% will decorate their homes, 46% will carve a pumpkin, and 18% will costume their pet. Plans for parties are down 10%, trick-or-treating is down 6%, and handing out candy and visiting a haunted house are both down 7%.  

Still, even with caution dominating the holiday landscape, U.S. consumers are projected to spend $8.05 billion on Halloween, down from $8.78 billion in 2019 and $9 billion in 2018. Surprisingly, the average per-person amount is actually rising—to $92.12, up from $86.27 in 2019 and $86.79 in 2018. Handing out candy will be the most popular holiday pastime, with 62% of celebrants intending to serve the 23% who plan to go trick-or-treating.  

$92.12

The amount per person U.S. consumers will spend on Halloween in 2020.

Price of Costumes

For children, dressing up as their favorite character has become a Halloween staple. While trick-or-treating, you can easily spot tiaras, gowns, and glass slippers, as princesses remain the most popular type of costume, with Spider-Man, a superhero, ghosts, and Batman rounding out the top five. Child-sized costumes typically range from $25 to $40, not including additional props, makeup, and a bag for storing candy.

Plenty of adults will be suiting up as well. The top five costumes among adults this year are pretty evergreen: witch, vampire, cat, Batman, and ghost. Costumes are generally in the $30 to $60 range, but it can soar into the hundreds for the most committed celebrants.

Children this year are dressing up as their favorite princesses and parents are sticking to traditional favorites, but what about household pets? The most popular costumes for pets this year are mostly foods or living creatures: pumpkin, hot dog, superhero, cat, and bumblebee constitute the top five.

The Bottom Line

Even with a coronavirus chilling the autumn air, it looks like 2020 Halloween will still have a significant impact on the economy.

"Retailers are prepared to meet the increased demand for seasonal décor, costumes and other items that allow families the opportunity to observe Halloween safely," Shay said.

They may be prepared, but will customer-starved retailers get the boost they need from the holiday season during a pandemic? Only time and a little bit of terror will tell.