Oh, my gourd: pumpkins, sweets and costumes make today a monster hit

WANT to hear a scary story…? Well gather round the hearth, children, and consider these facts (well, internet facts, courtesy of the US National Retail Federation).

Today — All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Halloween or what you will — will pull an otherwise useful $9bn into an early grave.

Halloween shop
Philafrenzy [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
That’s right: $9bn. Perhaps not surprising when you consider that Halloween has become the World’s second-biggest festival after Christmas, with more than 140m Americans ready to don fangs and party.

Of that terrifying total, an estimated $3.2bn will be spent on costumes, while decorations account for $2.7bn more. Sweets purchased for the trick-of-treaters will account for another $2.6bn and (how quaint and old-school) greeting cards worth $400m will be sold. Not sure how those cards will be distributed, because no one uses the postal service nowadays.

Sweet sales alone are worthy of note, accounting for eight percent of annual confectionary sales, and almost 35 percent of seasonal sales. And don’t forget the pumpkins: the orange gourds, whose insides are turfed out in Britain and turned into pie in the States, account for a $575m in seasonal purchase.

Apart from this spending on the basic bits and bobs, don’t forget the added-value spending on themed pub nights, parties and neighbourhood get-togethers. There are even Halloween pop-up shops mopping up any cash that hasn’t already found its way into regular brick-and-mortar outlets.

All this could make sense of the fact that Halloween has become an entirely commercial festival. Kind of like Christmas, really.