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October 25, 2021

How Does Halloween Spending Impact the Economy? | 2021 Projections

Samantha Hubay

Written by:

Samantha Hubay

How Does Halloween Spending Impact the Economy? | 2021 Projections

Happy Halloween! 

Have you ever wondered how Halloween impacts our economy?

After all, those pumpkins, decorations, costumes, and candy do have to be purchased every year and typically fly off the shelves. In this post, we’ll review some of the frightening facts on Halloween spending. Read on, if you dare!


A Brief History of All Hallow's Eve

The origin of this spooky holiday dates back to the festival of Samhain, an ancient Celtic tradition to welcome the harvest and “the dark half of the year.”

The following overview of Halloween history comes from

"In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes, and eating treats.

In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally."

Today, Halloween is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States, especially for children and families who enjoy Trick-or-Treating. Many people look forward to enjoying everything this holiday offers, such as the chance to wear a creative costume, decorate the house and yard, carve pumpkins, and eat plenty of candy! 

However, all this fun has a price tag. How will the money you spend on Halloween goodies affect the economy in 2021? Let's find out.


Halloween Projected Spending for 2021

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers are expected to spend an average of $102.74 per person this year. About 65% of adults plan to celebrate the holiday, which has brought Halloween spending back to near pre-pandemic levels.

In fact, adults in the United States are projected to spend a record-breaking total of $10.1 billion on the spooky season this year. For reference, the last record cashed in at $9.1 billion in 2017.

Check out this breakdown of where the most dollars will be spent:




Halloween Spending and the U.S. Economy

So, how will all this spending affect the United States economy?

Economists have been examining this question over the years but have yet to come to a solid consensus. Some argue that the state of the economy affects the Halloween industry more than Halloween affects the state of the economy.

For example, after the Great Recession of 2008, Halloween spending decreased to just $56 per person. Once the economy began to resurge, so did Halloween spending - reaching $66 per person in 2010 and $72 per person in 2011. These numbers continued to climb until reaching a record high in 2017. Spending took a hit during the pandemic in 2020, but it's projected to soar past 2017 levels this year to a new record $10.1 billion in total spending.

What do these numbers tell us?

Experts believe that a healthier state of the economy (and the world) increases consumer confidence, making us more likely to spend our earnings on non-essential products, such as costumes, candies, and decorations. 

Other economists believe that an increase in spending on Halloween merchandise always has a positive effect on the state of the economy. According to Investopedia, “Increased spending generally leads to higher gross domestic product (GDP), helping to jump-start economic activity and lead to potential job growth.”

Halloween-specific retailers, such as Spirit Halloween, help to stimulate the job market by hiring temporary employees to run the retail store. This stimulation then continues through the holidays, as many large retailers hire additional, temporary staff to work the extended hours required to meet consumer demand.

The Halloween shopping season can also be an opportunity for retailers such as craft stores and mass merchants like Walmart or Target to begin teasing holiday specials. It may seem like overkill when you start seeing Christmas trees in stores before Halloween, but the retail industry pushes these items early because it relies heavily on holiday shopping. In fact, that’s when about 20 percent of all retail sales for the year occur.

To summarize, the answer to our question (how does Halloween spending impact the economy) is a bit ambiguous. Like a distorting mirror in a haunted house, it depends on which way you look at it. At one angle, the state of the economy affects Halloween spending. From the other angle, we see that Halloween spending can help stimulate the economy.


Trick or Treat! Other Halloween Fun Facts

Here are some other Halloween facts that may surprise you:

  1. In 2018, it is estimated that about $575 million was spent on Halloween pumpkins, exhausting about 80 percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States.
  2. Rubie’s Costume Company is the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of costumes and produces almost half of all costumes worn during the Halloween season.
  3. America's most popular Halloween candies are as follows:
    1 - Reese's Cups
    2 - Skittles
    3 - M&M's
    4 - Starburst
    5 - Hot Tamales
    6 - Sour Patch Kids
    7 - Hershey Kisses
    8 - Snickers
    9 - Tootsie Pops
    10 - Candy Corn
  4. The fastest pumpkin carving was completed in 16.47 seconds. 
  5. 20% of Americans plan to dress their pet(s) up for Halloween. The most popular costumes include a pumpkin (10%), hot dog (5%), superhero or cat (each tied at 4%), and bumblebee (3%).


Whether you’re taking the family out trick-or-treating or enjoying your favorite candy at home, we hope you have a fang-tastic Halloween! 🎃


Sources:, NRF, Investopedia, ConsolidatedCredit, The Balance, FEE, Retail Dive

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