Halloween by the numbers

Written by:
October 5, 2018

Halloween by the numbers

With Halloween just three weeks away, people across the country are designing costumes, decorating their homes, and buying candy. But just how much candy does the average person buy? Who prefers chocolate in their bag? And are all those kids who trick-or-treat in Batman costumes part of a trend?

To find the answers to these questions and many others, Stacker gathered data from around the web on the numbers of Halloween. WalletHub, Influenster, the National Retail Federation, and America Haunts provided information on consumer spending, trick-or-treating habits, and safety discussions. Altogether, this data shows how Americans celebrate the spooky holiday.

So, how much money do haunted houses make? What are the Halloween world records? Which candies are the most popular in every state in America? Read on to find out. We begin with a billion-dollar figure that shows just how much money the “Hallows’ Eve” holiday generates.

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Record year

Halloween 2018 is expected to be one for the record books. Spending this holiday is estimated to reach at least $9 billion, the second-highest mark in the past 14 years, according to the National Retail Federation. Halloween 2017 holds the current record, with $9.1 billion spent.


The costumed young

While adults maintain a love for designing costumes and gathering for the holiday, the kid population is really the one making the most out of Halloween. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 41.1 million children between ages 5 and 14 who could be out trick-or-treating this year.  


Pumpkin land

Across the United States, 40,900 acres of pumpkins were harvested in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Illinois is the top producer of pumpkins in the country.


Favorite candy

Influenster polled more than 40,000 people to determine each state’s favorite Halloween candy. Only three kinds showed up among the top choices of each state: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Kit Kat, and Butterfinger.


An old holiday

Halloween originates from a pagan festival that’s more than 2,000 years old. The festival, called Samhain, was first celebrated by Celtic people.


The cost of costumes

Prizes, or at least pride, often go to the most creative costumes. In pursuit of that trophy, consumers are expected to spend $3.2 billion on ready-made costumes and costume-making supplies this year, according to the National Retail Federation.


The inspiration well

According to the Halloween Industry Association, 35% of celebrants will look for costume inspiration online. Another 30% look for ideas in a store, and 20% turn to friends or family.


Early buyers

Some devotees to the holiday dive into the Halloween spirit well before the seasons change. According to the consumer guide WeAreTop10, 6% of the Halloween-celebrating population will make their purchases before the month of September.


Haunted attractions

There are more than 1,200 haunted-theme attractions across the country that charge admission. Charity organizations operate another 3,000 attractions, according to America Haunts.  


Gathering of skeletons

The largest gathering of skeleton-costumed people occured at Swansea University in the United Kingdom. According to Guinness World Records, 2,018 people gathered for the event.


Celebrating, no matter what

People love Halloween enough that a bad economy will not dissuade them from celebrating. The National Retail Federation reports that only 13% of people say their Halloween spending is affected by the economy, down from 32% in 2011.


Doorbells rung

With millions of children celebrating Halloween, there will inevitably be a lot of door-knocking and bell-ringing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are a potential 120 million trick-or-treat stops for Halloween.


Cost per person

In 2017, 179 million Americans celebrated Halloween. In total, the average celebrant spent $86.13—a new record, according to The Balance.


The age gap

The different generations have different ideas of what makes a good costume or, at least, how much to spend on a costume. According to a CIT survey, millennials spends $66 on a costume, compared to $25 for Generation X and $3 for Baby Boomers.


The candy haul

More than just getting a certain kind of candy, trick-or-treating is about getting the most candy. According to WalletHub, 72% of households give out two or three pieces of candy to each trick-or-treater.


The first Halloween?

The first written record of trick-or-treating occurred in Canada. The record, from Blackie, Alberta, occurred in 1927.


The safety talk

Around a third of parents talk to their children about trick-or-treating safety before Halloween. Around three-quarters of parents have Halloween-related fears, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.


The candy market

Trick-or-treaters are in for a treat this year. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend $2.6 billion this year on candy.


Half prefer chocolate, half favor 'other'

Half of trick-or-treaters prefer chocolate. According to Fact Retriever, 50% of kids want chocolate and 24% prefer another kind of candy.


Scary movie money

A signal of the coming Halloween season is the release of horror movies. Since 1995, the movie industry has produced 543 horror movies for a total revenue of more than $10.5 billion, according to The Numbers.


Spooky reads

The horror movie industry may generate scares, but the horror book genre is also a major supplier of spooky stories. Author R.L. Stine has written 62 books as part of the famous “Goosebumps” series.


The great pumpkin

The largest jack-o-lantern in history weighed a total of 1,810.5 pounds. Scott Cully cut the masterpiece in 2010, according to Guinness World Records.


Popular children's costumes

According to the National Retail Federation, princesses and superheroes are the most popular costumes for children: 7.6% of children will dress as princesses and 4.9% as superheroes. The third-most popular costume among kids, with 4.3%, is Batman.


Popular adult costumes

According to the National Retail Federation, witches and vampires are the most popular costume choices for adults.: 10.7% of adults will dress as witches and 3.7% as vampires. The third-most popular costume among adults is a zombie.


An expensive experience

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios offers haunted houses, film screenings, and “scare zones.” However, gate admission to the Florida event is a steep $114.99.


How to celebrate

According to the National Retail Federation, 70% of people celebrating Halloween plan to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Half of those people will decorate their homes, and about a third will throw a party.


The Amazon effect

Amazon is now expanding into the Halloween candy distribution business. According to Statista, consumers spent about $13 million on candy through Amazon in 2017.


Sneaky snacking

More than half of parents admit to eating their children’s Halloween candy. According to Wallethub, 62% of parents say they snack on their children’s holiday sweets.


Pets in costumes

In 2017, 16% of Halloween celebrants dressed up their pet. That number is expected to rise to 20% in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. The most popular pet costume is a pumpkin.  


Haunting sales

The “haunted industry” generates almost $500 million in ticket sales each year, according to America Haunts. This revenue is split between haunted attractions and amusement parks with Halloween themes.


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