The Price Of Fright | Eastern North Carolina Now

Everything has a price, so how much do Americans spend on the spookiest day of the year? Since 2005, the National Retail Federation has conducted a Halloween Consumer Spending Survey to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Halloween spending. Overall, 162 million people are...

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    Publisher's note: The author of this post is Sarah Curry, who is Director of Fiscal Policy Studies for the John Locke Foundation.

    Everything has a price, so how much do Americans spend on the spookiest day of the year? Since 2005, the National Retail Federation has conducted a Halloween Consumer Spending Survey to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Halloween spending. Overall, 162 million people are expected to celebrate Halloween in 2014, spending $7.4 billion in some way to celebrate the holiday. There are seven business entities in North Carolina registered with 'Halloween' in their name, not to mention multiple haunted houses, hay rides, fairs, corn mazes, zip lines, fall festivals, and more events throughout North Carolina that celebrate the autumn holiday. To add to the fun, North Carolina also grows pumpkins and apples, an agricultural necessity for the cooler weather and fall festivities. Needless to say, there will be a positive impact on North Carolina's economy from the holiday.

    The most popular ways people will participate in the holiday is by handing out candy, followed by decorating their homes or yards, dressing in costumes, or carving pumpkins. When it comes to costumes, there is no telling what will knock on your door Friday night, but keep in mind most of those costumes were purchased somewhere. Shoppers are expected to spend $2.8 billion on Halloween costumes, $1.4 billion on adult costumes and $1.1 billion on children's costumes. And of course the four-legged members of the family haven't been forgotten when it comes to costumes -- 23 million people will dress their pets in costumes, spending $350 million.

    Much of the retail industry has been focusing on younger consumers, because with Halloween that age bracket is a cash cow. Of those surveyed, 86 percent said they would be celebrating and participating in Halloween activities this year. Three-quarters of young adults (18-24) said the economy would not impact their Halloween plans, spending $87 on Halloween activities versus $78 last year. Nearly four out of five in this age bracket will dress in a costume, with 21 percent using pinterest.com for costume inspiration.

    While the younger generation is spending away, the state of the nation's economy hasn't left the holiday untouched for some. According to the survey, one in five shoppers say their Halloween spending will be impacted by the economy. The main way these savvy savers will cut costs will be making, not buying, their costumes, while others said they have opted not to hand out candy this year.

    Another industry that profits from this holiday is North Carolina agriculture. What's Halloween without a jack-o-lantern or some candied apples? Pumpkins are considered a minor crop in North Carolina, whereas apples are a significant source of agricultural income for many western counties. Pumpkin varieties grown in North Carolina include Mammoth Gold, Autumn Gold, Happy Jack, Big Max, Prizewinner, and Sugar Pie pumpkins. Pumpkins are grown on about 3,000 to 4,000 acres in the state, with most farmers only dedicating one to five acres towards pumpkins. This year at the State Fair there was a state-record-breaking pumpkin that weighted 1,404.5 pounds.

    Apples are a North Carolina fall favorite and are grown primarily in the western or mountain counties. North Carolina is home to over 300 commercial apple operations that include 10,000 acres of apple orchards. While there are over forty varieties of apples grown in the state, the major varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, and Stayman apples. According to the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture, North Carolina apples are within 24 freight hours of 65 percent of the United States population.

    So whether you are carving a pumpkin, handing out candy, wearing a costume, making an apple pie, or just enjoying another Friday night, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Halloween.
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