Halloween Spending Boost Forecast to Kick Off Solid Holiday Sales Season Follow Election Slump

Halloween will be sweet, not spooky, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the trade group headquartered in Washington, D.C.

According to the NRF survey, Halloween spending is forecast to climb to $8.4 billion, which is an all-time high in the trade group’s 11 years of tracking this holiday’s spending. Last year, U.S. consumers spent $6.9 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations and candies.

Pam Goodfellow of Prosper Insights, the company that conducted the survey, said that eight in 10 Americans shopped for Halloween goodies early, basically in mid-October. Shoppers were forecast to spend an average of $82.93, up from $74.34 in 2015.

It is one of a group of recent surveys forecasting solid to good business for the Fall and Holiday seasons.

On Oct. 27, the NRF released a survey predicting that U.S. consumers will spend $935.58 during the holiday season. It is second only to spending in 2015, which the NRF said was a record at $952.58. The survey found that 58 percent of consumers plan to shop for themselves during the holidays. These shoppers will spend an average of $139.61, an increase of 4 percent from last year’s average spending of $133.74. In a forecast released Oct. 4, the NRF predicted that holiday spending will increase 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion.

The presidential election is currently diverting attention from shopping, the survey found. Ad space that would be typically dominated by retailers is being taken up by political parties and candidates, said Matthew Shay, the NRF president and chief executive officer. The uncertainty of the election is causing some to rein in their spending, with 43 percent saying they are being more cautious with spending due to the election.

Post election, the NRF expects consumers to return to a focus on shopping. “Retailers should prepare for a rush of consumers in the weeks following the presidential election as they get more economic and political certainty,” Shay said.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for market researchers The NPD Group, predicted that the election would do little to rein in consumer confidence during the holidays, even if consumers are not paying attention to shopping in the days preceding the election. “Retailers will need to find ways to break through the noise surrounding the election and be innovative in marketing to consumers. The best way to get the attention of the distracted is to give them a great deal. They’ll be back regardless of who wins the election,” he said.