The Business of Halloween

Inflation’s affecting everything. Even Halloween.

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Spooky season’s become big business. Now one of one North America’s spendingest holidays, Halloween spending is expected to reach $10.6 billion in 2022. That’s up from an all-time high of $10.1B last year. The average consumer plans to drop over $100 on candy, costumes, and decorations.

So, are these record numbers due to record participation after two years of socially-distant celebrations, are they a result of record inflation, or is it a bit of both?

We do the monster mash math

The incredible shrinking candy bars

As Americans shell out over $3.1B on Halloween candy this year, they’ll get less for their money than ever before.


That’s shrinkflation for you — when companies reduce items without reducing prices.

Here’s something even scarier: candy’s experiencing regular inflation too. You likely won’t notice that your Reese’s got 0.1 ounces lighter, but there’s no missing a 35% higher price tag. Thanks to supply chain issues + increased sugar prices, Halloween candy prices have jumped an unlucky 13% since last October (Twix fans have got it the worst, with a 53% hike.) Overall sales volume is actually down for the first time in years, but don’t cry for the candy companies — Nestle and Hershey profits still increased after both raised their prices by 9.5% and 14%, respectively. 

Some trick.

DIY > store-bought costumes

More people are planning to dress up for Halloween this year, with Americans predicted to drop $2.9B on kids’ and adult costumes, plus a record $710M on costumes for their pets. There’s no official index to track costume cost, but an increase in clothing prices – up 5.5% since 2021 – should mean a return to DIY (especially now that Gen Z’s have made thrifting cool again). Unfortch, fabric and sewing supplies are also up 11%. Still, it’s better than trying to save a few bucks with that unlicensed “Blue Speed Mouse” costume.

A giant monster arms race

There is at least one Halloween standby that’s remained immune to inflation: Home Depot’s 12-foot-tall skeleton still costs $299, same as it did when it was introduced in 2020. “Skelly” has been a graveyard smash ever since, with annual sell-outs and eBay listings for $1K+. Lowe’s has responded with their own 12-foot animatronic mummy, as retailers raced to create enough supersized Halloween decor to keep up with demand. Now, you can kit out your lawn with a whole crew of enormous monsters, from 15-foot phantoms to giant werewolves, witches, even something called an “Inferno Pumpkin Skeleton.” Big box stores more than doubled their Halloween inventory in 2022, as decoration spending hit its own all-time high of $3.4 billion.

And so we’re welcoming our new giant skeleton overlords with the obvious question: trick or treat?