By Ernie Williamson
Driving through my daughter’s subdivision, I noticed a surprising number of homes with Halloween decorations.
The decorations weren’t a simple jack-o’-lantern on a porch, but elaborate lawn displays with huge skeletons.
And it was only Oct. 2. Trick-or- treat night was still almost a month away.
It occurred to me that during my 10-years in this wheelchair, I hadn’t noticed how Halloween had exploded into a bigger holiday.
I have never been a big Halloween guy. My Halloween consists of a Kit Kat and watching my wife passing out treats to neighborhood kids.
But these days, I am clearly in the minority. More and more people are celebrating Halloween earlier than ever and in a big way.
The reason? Target executive Christina Hennington believes Halloween offers an escape from the worries of everyday life. As customers face troubling headlines, Covid surges and political uncertainty, they are seeking more ways “ to bring joy to their families,” she says.
A survey by the National Retail Federation found 69 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, and they are projected to spend $10.6 billion this year, a major increase from 10 years ago when spending totaled $4.8 billion.
The survey found 69 percent of Americans will hand out candy while 47 percent plan to wear a costume.
Men will spend $96.13 on average, while women will spend approximately $76.92.
Halloween’s popularity is being driven largely by adults. Halloween is no longer kid stuff.
In 2005, just over half of adults celebrated Halloween. Today, that number has grown to over 70 percent.
Those between 18 and 34 participate at the highest rate and shell out over twice as much on costumes as older adults and children.
The 18-34 demographic has also changed the nature of the festivities. Alcohol has become as important as candy to Halloween.
Of all holidays, Halloween ranks fifth in terms of overall alcohol consumption.
And in a frightening fact for parents of young trick-or-treaters, 43 percent of car crashes on Halloween involve a drunk driver, and 23 percent of pedestrian deaths result from drunk driving.
Halloween’s surging popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed. Businesses are taking advantage of - if not encouraging - the trend.
According to CNBC, retailers are compensating for what is expected to be a lackluster Christmas holiday season by trying to pump up sales of Halloween merchandise.
Home Deport and Lowe’s have stocked up on spooky lawn ornaments, including giant mummies and skeletons. Home Depot’s 12-foot skeletons cost about $300 and sold out in July before being resupplied.
And Party City, which sells costumes, balloons and candy, was hoping to hire about 20,000 seasonal employees.
Target executives have high hopes for sales of costumes and haunted house cookie-building sets.
The candy industry plans on catering to the nation’s sweet tooth, projecting candy sales of about $3.1 billion.
Can you guess the most popular Halloween candies?
According to Candystore.com, the most popular candy nationwide is Reese’s Cup, followed by Skittles in second place and M&Ms taking third.
Texans, as is our nature, have different tastes. Our Lone Star state favors Starburst, followed by Reese’s and Sour Patch Kids.
Of course, no Halloween would be complete without a pumpkin.
Roughly 44 percent of the population plans on spending about $804 million on pumpkins and carving them into jack-o’-lanterns.
Like everything else, the cost of that pumpkin will be higher. The cost of the average pumpkin nationwide is $5.40, up from $4.83 last year.
As for costumes, hobos and princesses are things of the past. Pinterest reports that TV shows and movies are serving as inspiration for Halloween costumes.
The most searched idea is for costumes inspired by Netflix’s hit series, “Stranger Things.”
In second place of searches is an Elvis and Priscilla Presley couple’s costume, inspired by the “Elvis” film.
As for me, I think I will go with the trend this year and splurge for Halloween. I will have two Kit Kats.
(Contact Ernie at email@example.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)