When Spending Gets Scary

By FOXBusiness

Chalk it up to the still-depressed economy, the spooky uncertainty of the upcoming election or frightening reports of the nation falling off a “tax cliff” come Jan 1: Americans are pulling out the stops to party this Halloween.

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Research shows we started spending for the upcoming holiday at the start of October, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) calls Halloween “one of the fastest-growing and most widely-loved holidays.” In fact, 70% of Americans plan to celebrate in some way this year--a record high. NRF projects spending will reach $8 billion this year--another record, and the average person will shell out nearly $80 on costumes, candy and decorations an increase of 7.5% compared to last year.

Unlike the obligatory gift giving and celebrating during the year-end holidays, “Halloween is purely discretionary,” says NRF spokesperson Kathy Grannis. “If you want to let loose and spend a lot of money, you can. If you don’t want to open your wallet, you don’t have to--you can use last year’s decorations and costumes. Or you can just do candy.”

Despite, or perhaps because of the gloomy economy, most of us have chosen the first option. To paraphrase the song from the musical Annie,  Americans seem to have decided that “we need a little Halloween, right this very minute! Golbins in the window, witches at the spinet!”

Halloween is not longer just a kids' night. Adults are into the holiday big time, both in terms of elaborate decorations and parties. According to the NRF, “By the time Halloween rolls around each year it’s safe to say Americans have already spent two months preparing.”  In fact, many of us started celebrating weeks ago, visiting haunted houses, theme parks and hosting parties.

Among those who intend to get into the spooky mood, more than half will decorate their yards and/or homes- an increase over last year., and 36% will host or attend a party. A third of Americans plan to take their kids trick-or-treating.

On top of that, 15% of us will compel our pets to get into the spirit by dressing them in costume. (My two dogs will transform into dinosaurs for an hour- if I’m lucky!)

Still, while Halloween spending is up considerably compared to a year ago, the specter of the depressed economy continues to haunt one-in-four of us, sending a cold shiver through their Halloween plans.  While reluctant to overlook the holiday completely, these individuals will pare back their spending by making instead of buying a costume or (horrors!) by spending less on candy. (Note to self: begin trick-or-treating early.)

Ms. Buckner is a Retirement and Financial Planning Specialist and an instructor in Franklin Templeton Investments' global Academy. The views expressed in this article are only those of Ms. Buckner or the individual commentator identified therein, and are not necessarily the views of Franklin Templeton Investments, which has not reviewed, and is not responsible for, the content.