18 Frightening Financial Facts You Didn’t Know About Halloween

I love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays — and based upon its mass appeal, apparently I’m not alone.

In fact, even though the wicked economy continues to put a scare into most people, when it comes to celebrating what was originally known as All Hallows’ Eve, spirits remain high.

So just how hot is Halloween? Well, it’s so popular that it’s downright spooky.

To prove it, here are a few bone-chilling financial facts from the National Retail Federation — along with some other horrendous Halloween trivia I dug up — that I bet you’ve all been dying to know:

1. The Halloween business is absolutely monstrous. Americans will spend $6.9 billion in 2013 on everything from candy and costumes to decorations. That’s $1.1 billion less than what consumers said they would spend last season.

2. Here’s another shocking survey finding: The average consumer intends to spend $75.03 on Halloween products in 2013. That’s $4.79 less than last year.

3. According to the latest available US Census Bureau figures, there were 41 million trick-or-treaters in 2010 between the ages of 5 and 14. It’s unknown how many cranky old people sat on their front porches screaming, “Get the heck off my lawn!”

4. This year, 7 in 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween; that’s the highest level of participation in the survey’s nine-year history. I assume the other three prefer gardening. Or giving trespassing kids the evil eye.

5. Then again, who says Halloween is just for the kids? Believe it or not, this year adults are collectively expected to spend $180 million more on Halloween costumes for themselves than their own little hobgoblins.

6. Don’t forget Fido: Americans also plan on spending $330 million to dress up their pets in 2013.

7. With over $2.5 billion being spent on Halloween costumes alone, it’s no wonder that, as of 2009, there were 1,719 costume rental establishments across America.

8. If you plan on attending a neighborhood Halloween party this year, you can reduce the chance of bumping into your sartorial doppelganger by avoiding one of the five most popular adult costumes in 2013: a witch, Batman, a vampire, a zombie, and a pirate.

9. I’d be lying if I told you I’m glad the “vampy vixen” costume failed to crack the top ten this year. Believe it or not, it actually ranked as high as seventh back in 2011. Those were the good ol’ days.

10. Census data shows that 92% of American households consider their neighborhoods safe. Yes, that includes the folks living in places like Tombstone, Arizona and Cape Fear, North Carolina.

11. Even so, that won’t stop parents like me from checking the kids’ Halloween candy for signs of tampering.

12. If it will make you feel any better, there has been only one documented case since 1974 of a child being killed by a lethal Halloween treat — and in that lone instance, the Grim Reaper turned out to be the father.

13. Speaking of Halloween treats, this year one in three households plan to scale back and buy less candy than they did in 2012.

14. By the way, if you hate crowds, make sure you avoid the stores on October 28; that happens to be the biggest day of the year for candy sales.

15. In all, Americans will spend nearly $2.1 billion in 2013 on candy to keep the neighborhood goblins happy. Hopefully, they’ll avoid the 13 Halloween treats kids hate more than anything. One of the most despised: mints.

16. Perhaps that large confection market is why, in 2009, the US had 1177 establishments producing chocolate and cocoa products, employing over 34,000 people. Somewhat ironically, a lot of kids will tell you that many of the most popular Halloween treats don’t involve chocolate at all.

17. Still, if you insist on giving out chocolate this Halloween, you’ll probably want to know that the four most popular candy varieties are: Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat, and M&Ms.

18. Here’s an eerie trick for scaring up your favorite treats: Kit Kat lovers might be interested to know that they have a 37% better chance of scoring that crispy confection at a ranch-style home. And any self-respecting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fan should realize they have a 26% greater chance of getting those tasty treats at two-story houses. Then again, I usually avoid the hassle entirely by just buying — and squirreling away — an extra bag for myself. Just don’t tell my kids.


(This is an updated version of an article originally written on October 10, 2011.)

Photo Credit: Kathy Kimpel


  1. 1


    We’re going to make costumes for our kids this year which will lead to some savings. I think stocking up on a variety of different types of candies is your insurance you won’t blow your budget on candy. Chocolates are most expensive so we don’t buy as many chocolates to hand out.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      When I was a kid, I used to buy some cheap face make-up and make my own costumes out of whatever old clothes I could scrounge up around the house. It cost almost nothing to be a hobo, a cowboy, or a pirate, for example. Of course, these days, a lot of kids want more elaborate costumes.

      • 3

        Lisa says

        When I was about 12, I made my own Martian costume for a neighborhood party. I had green pants, a green turtleneck and even a head piece, but something was missing. So I figured out a way to make all my skin that showed green. Unfortunately, my 12 year old self didn’t know that food coloring doesn’t just wash off. I was literally green behind the ears, and elsewhere, for days. 😎

  2. 4

    tracee says

    i’m with you i love halloween!!!! my child is still young enough that he still thinks it’s cool to do family themes. this year we are star wars, with the munchkin as a storm trooper, the man as darth maul, the dog as yoda, and me as princess leia…(and no not the slave costume…lol )
    yay for cape fear, nc!!!

    • 5

      Len Penzo says

      I love it! Especially the dog as Yoda! Dog costumes are hilarious!!

      If you’re not going as Princess Leia in the slave costume, I assume going as her in the vampy vixen costume is out of the question too? 😉

      (Sorry; I couldn’t resist.)

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      Yeah, that picture (in the accompanying link, readers) of Martha Stewart in the kitty cat costume was, um, interesting. As for the Honeybee, I suspect she’d be more comfortable dressing up as a, well, honeybee. (But maybe I’ll buy her that other costume anyway!)

  3. 10


    Halloween does seem to help boost the economy, if only a little. I think most of it is due to the fact that you feel obligated to buy candy just in case you get “trick or treaters”. Last year, I didn’t have any. Oh well, the candy was nice to eat myself. :) I know better for this year though.

    • 11

      Len Penzo says

      One year, when I was still in my mid 20s, I ran out of candy and so — instead of simply turning off the lights and pretending no one was home — I started handing out whatever I had in my pantry. I remember giving out some Ho-Ho’s and when those ran out I started giving out Chip’s Ahoy cookies (which I am sure turned into crumbs by the time those kids got home). LOL!

  4. 12


    My wife misses the little trick or treaters coming to the door. We live in a gated community where that doesn’t happen. Don’t misundertand, I think it is very cute to see little children dress up and goo trick or treat,but I get to see the kids dress up in school.

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      I love seeing all the little kids come to my door. What I don’t really like so much are the older teenagers — once you’re old enough to drive, I think it’s time to recognize that you’re a bit old for trick-or-treating.

  5. 15


    One of my Halloween projects this year was on candy math – specifically the cost of candy and treats, and how to understand the price per piece.

    Based on my analysis, $21.01 in Halloween candy would be about 200 pieces of candy. That may sound like a lot, but I ran my candy math based on 300 pieces because that’s closer to what the candy hosts are telling me that they buy for neighborhood trick or treat or the church / school / community trunk or treat parties.

    If you pay 20 cents a piece for 300 pieces, that’s about $62.50 on Halloween candy. If you pick treats that cost 11 cents each, you’ll spend only $35.71 for 300 pieces. If you pick treats that cost only 8 cents each, you’ll spend $24 for 300 pieces.

  6. 16

    Debbi says

    The silliest and ultimately most expensive Halloween was the year my son was 14 and a freshman in high school. A group of girls about his same age came to the door and recognized me as in “oooooh, you’re Mike’s mom!”. Heavy emphasis on the “oooooh”. I noticed lots of cell phones being dialed as they walked away. Soon, marauding bands of teenaged girls started ringing the bell, giggling and peeking around my shoulder to see if they could catch a glimpse of this now mythical being who I thought (silly me) was just a regular kid. There were so many that I ended up sending my husband to the store for more candy! Good thing Albertson’s had all their candy on sale or I’d have wound up uglying up my son to make sure the next Halloween would be quieter at our house. And my son Mike? He just rolled his eyes and smiled. Very suave for 14, dontcha think?

  7. 18


    Always enjoyed Halloween when the kids were young (our youngest is 18). I still like Halloween because we stock up on Butterfingers, and I try to give them out last. One thing we noted and were also told, Halloween is a huge night for pizza delivery. I know we had several pizza parties for the kids over the years after they went out trick or treating.

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      Maybe we can arrange a candy swap? I’ll trade you your Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for my Butterfingers!

  8. 21


    Our kid is going through his picky phase right now and refuse to wear anything new. We’ll just go trick or treat at the mall this year. Perhaps next year we’ll get more into it. He’ll be 3.
    We spent $5 on a pumpkin this year and that’s it. We dont’ get trick or treaters at our condo.

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