Halloween sales to generate $10.6 billion for U.S. economy

Melani Bonilla, Multimedia Editor

Halloween may give people the chance to dress up and collect candy, but it also provides an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on celebrations and generate revenue

Still enduring the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers spent a total of $10.1 billion for Halloween in 2021, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. Spending is expected to increase this year, with an estimated amount of $10.6 billion.

While some consumers may wait until the end of October to shop for their costumes, companies started releasing their products as early as the summer.

Many retail chains, such as Target Corp. and Walmart Inc., began advertising campaigns for their Halloween products in late August.

Starbucks Corp. used to receive backlash for selling its signature pumpkin spice lattes before autumn even started. People felt it was too early for pumpkin-themed decor, with states still enduring heatwaves.

“You are not welcome until October,” a user who goes by @bagpipesandbeer tweeted regarding the seasonal drink in August 2014.

Starbucks brought the drink back to stores this year on Aug. 30., which is three days later compared to 2021.

Many businesses followed suit, introducing their own pumpkin spice beverages and snacks to their menus and store shelves. Dunkin’ brought back its fall menu items to locations this year on Aug. 19.

Products available to consumers in stores range from Halloween-themed grocery items, costumes, home decor, candy and pumpkins. Pumpkins themselves are a whole section of profitable opportunity for farmers ahead of winter.

Finder data analyst Catherine Choi estimated that 149 million Americans — close to half of the U.S. population — intend on buying pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns. This is an increase from 146 million Americans in 2021.

However, retailers may struggle with demand due to the economy and ongoing climate crises that impact supply.

The global supply of pumpkin in 2021 was impacted by extreme weather and supply chain disruptions. Droughts affected crops that were planted in early spring and late summer, and farmers were unable to harvest the amount to satisfy customers.

In contrast, the global supply of pumpkins this year is impacted by a long and hot summer with extreme heat spikes.

“The weather has just been so extreme,” Becker Farms co-owner Melinda Vizcarra told the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, adding that she expects pumpkins at the upstate New York farm to be smaller.

“We went for a long time without any timely rain. I know south of Buffalo they were getting a lot of rain, but here in Niagara County, we were dry. Either it’s really wet or really dry. We don’t get the nice in-between like we used to.”

Aside from smaller pumpkins, customers may also face a possible candy shortage, due to the pandemic.

During a second-quarter sales call, Michele Buck, who is the CEO of The Hershey Co., said that the company expects consumers to spend a lot in the coming holidays, but despite the demand, it “will not be able to fully meet consumer demand due to capacity constraints.”

Hershey’s also mentioned the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a risk factor to its business performance. The war between the two countries made it hard for the company to maintain its supply of ingredients for chocolate.

The candy manufacturer also obtains its equipment from Germany, a country reliant on Russian energy and is cut off from it.

Although Hershey began its Halloween candy production in early spring to account for the possible loss in product supply, it is still unsure whether trick-or-treaters will be short of their candy this year.

This Halloween might not be all that people expected. However, the National Retail Federation still projects that 69% of Americans will participate in Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating.

Party City Holdco Inc. hired 20,000 seasonal employees in anticipation of a surge of customers seeking costumes. Home improvement retailers, such as Lowe’s Companies Inc. and The Home Depot Inc., aim to capitalize on spooky decor for lawns and parties. In appearance, this Halloween will be a celebration with hopeful costumed consumers.