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How the pandemic is impacting Halloween spending this year

Consumer experts and local businesses say things aren’t as bad as they expected.
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The spookiest day of the year is quickly approaching and while health officials strongly discourage parties and trick-or-treating, that’s not stopping people from finding new ways to celebrate.

An annual survey from the National Retail Federation found that 148 million adults plan to take part in Halloween-related activities this year. That number is down slightly from the 172 million who celebrated in 2019.

While the pandemic will impact overall spending this Halloween, there is a silver lining.

Consumer experts and local businesses say revenue is down slightly but people are actually spending more individually this year on things like decorations for their homes and candy.

“People want to feel some normalcy especially given this has been a long challenging public health crisis,” said Associate Professor of Consumer Science at UW-Madison.

On the west side of Madison, General Manager of Halloween Express Eric Bero says it’s business as usual.

“Lot of traffic coming in for costumes, deocrations...kind of a little bit of everything,” he said.

Bero says sales have been steady and the numbers are around what they were this time last year.

“Definitely a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t really sure going into the season what to expect. I didn’t know where sales would be but it hasn’t seemed to effect us,” said Bero.

Prof. Robb says the data shows households will continue spending on costumes as people dress up for virtual Halloween events or parents want to give their kids a chance to still have fun at home.

“I think what’s happening is people are just re-thinking their plans around the holiday so while there may not be these traditional city events like parades we’re still going to see people wanting to engage,” he said.

For those who don’t celebrate Halloween, the effect those sales have on the economy could be a benefit.

Experts say Halloween sales often give retailers an idea of how they’ll do during the holiday shopping season, which helps them decide what kind of deals to offer.

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