You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Editorial columns

  • Public school backers deserve your backing
    Elections in Indiana are critically important and represent the most fundamental decision-making authority of a representative government. Elections choose our leadership and guide our state’s future.
  • $2 billion surplus is goal, no matter the cost
    Shortly after the close of the fiscal year last June 30, our governor and auditor glowingly reported that our state had a budget surplus of more than $2 billion. How were we able to achieve this?
  • Literacy an investment with lifelong benefits
    September is Literacy Month, a chance to raise awareness about low adult literacy.

Feds put fright into Halloween spending

What is even scarier this Halloween than zombies, witches, skeletons, Despicable Me, a twerking Miley Cyrus or the characters from “Breaking Bad” and “Duck Dynasty”?


Last year, the National Retail Federation estimated Americans would spend $8 billion celebrating Halloween.

This year, with the popular celebration coming only two weeks after the end of the 16-day government shutdown, the federation estimates spending on costumes, candy and decorations will reach $6.9 billion.

Ever since more and more adults began participating in Halloween activities, spending had increased by more than half since 2005.

This year, celebrants will spend more on adult costumes, $1.22 billion, than children’s, $1.04 billion.

Last year, a record 170 million consumers participated in Halloween activities.

But, because of economic uncertainty – of which the shutdown is surely a factor – only 158 million are expected to do so. Celebrants’ per capita spending is likely to slide accordingly, from $79.82 to $75.03.

One-fourth of the consumers surveyed by the federation say the state of the economy will affect their Halloween spending, with nearly 90 percent saying they will spend less overall.

These figures might be of only passing interest – except that Halloween has morphed into an economic bellwether for the all-important Thanksgiving-through-Christmas shopping marathon, a make-or-break period for many retailers.

Congress has an opportunity to mess that up, too, if it can’t successfully conclude a House-Senate budget conference by Dec. 13.

Another government shutdown isn’t out of the question.

Even the uncertainty could make for an economically anemic holiday season.

For the moment, Matthew Shay, federation president, insists, “Still one of the most beloved and anticipated consumer holidays, Halloween will be far from a bust this year.”

Shay might just be whistling past the graveyard. (Complete kits, including tombstones, fake cemetery fences and artificial moss, start at around $50. Scary music and lighting are extra.)