Halloween: Economic Impact

By Tristan Miller-Lammert, Trending Writer

What began as a Celtic festival to mark the change of the seasons and a merging of the worlds of the dead and undead has today become a secular holiday.  “As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes, and sweat treats” in celebrating Halloween.

Halloween is seen from a business perspective as the beginning of the holiday spending season and although its sales pale in comparison to those for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, Americans spend an astounding amount annually on this costumed tradition.  This commercial holiday has a significant economic effect nationwide but also in the communities which celebrate it.

In 2014, nearly 75% of U.S. households were expected to collectively spend $11.3 Billion.  This number is expected to be reached by the average household spending “$125 on candy, costumes, decorations, and other Halloween related items”.  This surge in discretionary spending bodes well for Black Friday and Christmas as well as for local business.

Discount stores will attract 34% of spending and supermarkets 18% while clothing retailers and drug stores will account for 13% and 11% respectively.  Actual figures for 2014 were closer to $7.4 Billion which means that local business drew around $5.6 Billion in sales because of Halloween.  This $7.4 Billion in holiday spending is greater than the national Gross Domestic Product of smaller nations like Montenegro, Monaco, and Lichtenstein.

What do these numbers mean for those participating?  Well, they include $2.2 Billion in spending on the candy, which is often the focal point of the holiday for children.  Furthermore, people will put another $2 Billion into decorating their houses, which in some neighborhoods adds a seasonal flare and additional color.  In fact, decorations accounted for 27% of total Halloween spending in 2014 so it’s clear how this holiday directly impacts communities.

Pet owners too will spend a ridiculous amount on their animals.  Pet costumes accounted for $350 Million of the $7.4 Billion in 2014.  This holiday reaches deeply into consumer desires and is rampant throughout the U.S. and the world.

Any holiday which attracts this much market analysis and personal attention is sure to be significant for any community that celebrates it.  Although far evolved from its rustic Celtic roots, Halloween today still has similar social significance as a spending sink and annual community-wide event full of dark festivity.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 20th print edition.

Contact the Tristan at


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