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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halloween: Clout in Costumes and Candy

           Halloween is a major economic driving force in the U.S. economy.  Yes, the concept of this October day is based on frivolity and that which is not vital to survival, however a broad segment of the business world  has grown dependent upon the celebration of Halloween in order to remain strong and experience growth. If Halloween were to disappear, the economy would not collapse but it would be set back. The immediate effect upon businesses is obvious when related to the actual chain of the merchandising from creation of the goods, to the delivery to the point of sale, in providing incentive for customers to buy through the promotion of the products, and finally in activities of putting the merchandise on display and selling it to the customers.  Yet there are still more aspects of the economic driving force of Halloween that many people don't even consider.
         Now before we get into these other aspects I would like to address the argument: One day isn't going to make or break these businesses, all the merchandise will eventually get sold throughout the year. True to some extent, however much of the merchandise produced for Halloween is specific to the event and there would be no reason to produce it otherwise, such as Halloween cards and decorations. Also, creating the continuity of habit that I had mentioned in the previous post is essential for building a clientele that will feel compelled to return for similar items not only for Halloween, but also New Year's, Mardi Gras -- in other words if people derive some sense of pleasure or fulfillment or some other reward then they may develop a pattern that will keep them coming back.  The merchandisers need to take initiatives on their own to cultivate this following, but they also need the events like Halloween to bring in new clients. Halloween serves as a noticeable stimulus to elicit a desired reponse -- buy this stuff now and have fun and get hooked ( or feel obligated in some cases).
         Taking it one step further for the Halloween aversionists, let's look at a business relating to a different type of special event.  Flower shops may sell their product steadily throughout the year.  This is what they want, of course, but typically they want to increase business. They might encourage more people to buy their flowers through advertising and spreading word about their businesses.  It's those boon times that really give most of these businesses impetus.  How many florists would be excited about getting rid of Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or Memorial Day?  Very few obviously.  They have their year-round business to survive, but for many of these shops the special flower days are where they make their profit.  When customers gain the rewards of giving the flowers on the special days, they may be more apt to fall into the continuity of habit of buying flowers on other days as well.
         Small business is one of the most essential components in the economy. When one business is hurt or fails there is a chain reaction. The current state of the economy alone is enough to illustrate how this chain connects each of us to the other, one business to the next.  Several economy watchers have pointed to the problems with American auto companies which  led to dealership closures which had economic impact far beyond the communities they served.  In relation to Halloween costume buying, a survey by the National Retail Federation found that this year young adults, who typically spend the most on a costume, will spend $68.56 this year on a costume as compared to $86.59 in 2008 :  ) 
Overall, survey findings show that consumers plan to spend an average of  $56.30 on Halloween merchandise.  Even with the drop in spending among the young adults, we're talking billions of dollars of spending in honor of one day.  This is nothing to look down on.  Much of this spending is with small local business.  If this sector of the economy were to go away, we would all feel the negative effect.  Who would like to see Halloween banned?  I may not enjoy Halloween like I used to and maybe I don't participate in the festivities, but I like to see business do well.
        I haven't even't covered all of the ramifications of the merchandising subject of the Halloween economy yet, but I do want to explore some of the other ways that Halloween contributes to the U.S. economy.  I'm not writing a book on this subject so I don't want to go on too much about it.  Though looking at it all it seems one could write a book on the topic. On the next post I do want to get into some of the other ways that Halloween impacts the economy.  If anyone has another viewpoint, I'd love to hear it so please leave a comment if you feel motivated enough to do it.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Guess that I am not a typical adult as I have never rented a costume and my wife has made most of the kids costumes in the past. yes they are adults now and I know one of my son's Kevin does buy and rent costumes and this year they are spending less, but still for the kids is buying costumes, but not spending as much as in the past. cecil

  2. Hello Cecil,

    Thanks for coming on board.
    I've never been a big costume buyer and I've never in my life rented a costume. From the time I was about 10 years old I always preferred making my own and maybe supplementing what I found at home with a mask or make-up bought at the store. That was probably the time I started recognizing the value of money and becoming more economically minded. And the homemade costumes just seemed more creative. As an adult I have rarely dressed up for Halloween other than for a few years when my kids were younger and I would take them treating. Having worked most of my adult life in the entertainment industry or halloween industry and dressing up in costume all the time, dressing up for one night didn't seem so special to me.


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