Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
States That Start Shopping for Halloween the Earliest [2023 Data Study]
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As the fall season ushers in cooler temperatures and shorter days, it also marks the arrival of one of the year’s most anticipated and celebrated holidays: Halloween. Whether spending a night out trick-or-treating with friends, dressing up in costume for work, or simply decorating the house, Halloween in the U.S. offers something for nearly every age group.
According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), a staggering 73% of Americans plan to participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from 69% in 2022. With these levels of participation, it is no surprise that the holiday serves as a substantial economic driver for U.S. retail, ranking among the foremost shopping events of the year.¹
Halloween Spending Over Time
Americans are projected to spend over $12 billion in 2023 on Halloween, which has risen significantly over the past several years, even after adjusting for inflation. For context, in 2005, Americans spent $3.3 billion (or an inflation-adjusted $5.2 billion in 2023 dollars). On a per-household basis, this equates to the average American household spending nearly $110 this year in preparation for October 31st.
Halloween Spending by Category
The largest spending categories for Halloween festivities are costumes, decorations, candy, and greeting cards. In 2023, the NRF projects Americans will spend a total of $4.1 billion (34% of total) on costumes, $3.9 billion (32% of total) on decorations, $3.6 billion (30% of total) on candy, and approximately $500 million (4% of total) on greeting cards.
Interestingly, within the costume category, Americans typically spend more on costumes for adults than for kids. Adult costumes account for nearly half of costume spending, while costumes for children and pets represent just 34% and 17%, respectively.
The Busiest Months for Halloween Shopping
Just as certain radio stations begin airing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, certain Americans start prepping for Halloween long before October.
According to data from Google Trends, internet shopping searches for Halloween items begin to inch up in July before growing exponentially to their peak at the end of October. While most Halloween online shopping is performed in October, nearly 30% occurs in the 3 months prior (July to September). This number, however, varies by location.
Early Online Halloween Shopping Varies by Location
In West Virginia, nearly 36% of online shopping for Halloween supplies occurs between July and September — the highest of any state. Other states that prepare early for Halloween include Kentucky (34.3%), Alaska (33.8%), and Louisiana (33.7%).
At the opposite end of the spectrum, only 27.2% of online Halloween shopping takes place during the same 3 months in Vermont. Behind Vermont, Delaware (27.6%), New York (27.8%), California (28.0%), and Minnesota (28.1%) rounded out the bottom 5. In these states, a larger share of online Halloween shopping occurs in October.
For a breakdown of all 50 U.S. states, here is the report’s complete data table:
The state-level data used in this analysis is from Google Trends. To determine the states that start shopping for Halloween the earliest, researchers at Upgraded Points calculated the percentage of total Halloween-related shopping search queries on Google that occurred during July, August, and September for each state. In the event of a tie, researchers ranked states that performed more online Halloween shopping queries outside of October higher.
For each state, researchers also included the location with the greatest interest in Halloween, defined as the location where Halloween-related shopping queries represented the greatest proportion of all queries over the period analyzed. To improve relevance, metro names were abbreviated to their predominant city name, and metros outside of the state of interest were not listed.
The National Retail Federation reports that a record-breaking 73% of Americans plan to partake in Halloween activities in 2023, up from 69% the previous year. This holiday is a significant economic force, with Americans projected to spend over $12 billion, a substantial increase over previous years when adjusted for inflation.
This translates to an average expenditure of over $100 annually for Halloween preparations per household. The primary spending categories include costumes (34% of total spending), decorations (32%), candy (30%), and greeting cards (4%). Interestingly, adult costumes account for nearly half of the costume spending, while children and pet costumes make up 34% and 17%, respectively.
While most online shopping for Halloween happens in October, nearly 30% occurs in the preceding 3 months (July to September), although this percentage can vary by location. West Virginia led all states, where nearly 36% of online shopping for Halloween supplies occurs between July and September. At the opposite end of the spectrum, only 27.2% of Halloween shopping occurs during the same 3 months in Vermont.
1. National Retail Federation. (2023). Holiday and Seasonal Trends. https://nrf.com/research-insights/retail-holiday-and-seasonal-trends. Retrieved September 27, 2023.
Featured Image Credit: Upgraded Points
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