Grownups getting on fright track



It's a time for folks to party hardy. After all, how often can you be a superhero?
By JACKIE COHEN
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
SAN FRANCISCO -- Halloween isn't just for kids anymore.
Adult shoppers will spend $3.12 billion on themed candy, costumes and decorations this year, the National Retail Federation says.
"Over the last decade, Halloween has become an adult holiday while children have become secondary for many retailers," said James Lowry, a retail analyst and marketing professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. "Adults want to relive that time when they could pretend to be a superhero or monster."
The average consumer plans to spend $43.57 on Halloween related merchandise, up from $41.77 last year, the retail federation said. That will drive sales up from $2.96 billion in 2003, although sales will likely remain below their 2001 peak of $3.19 billion.
Lowry, though, says this year's holiday may be even stronger.
Stronger economy
"I think we should see Halloween retail sales numbers increase slightly over last year," he said. "The economy is stronger, and people have more discretionary income."
Costumes come first on most shopping lists, with the average expenditure at $15.21, followed by candy at $14.93, decorations at $10.95 and greeting cards at $2.58, according to retail federation data.
At least 50 million American households, including 90 percent of families with children 12 or younger, celebrate Halloween, according to research by Hallmark. These figures may be on the low side, however.
"Total Halloween spending is highest among 25- to 34-year-olds," Hallmark promotional materials say. "Halloween has become one of the top reasons for Americans to throw a party -- it's the third largest party day in the U.S. behind New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday."

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