Is Halloween an Early Benchmark?

I’m sure like most of you, I’m watching the movements of the economy – from the daily news to much more local things like Monster searches of jobs in my industry in Rochester. And like most of you, I’m hearing the same whispers, “we’ve gotta have a good Christmas.”

And it is certainly true that many retail companies rely on Christmas for nearly a third of their total yearly income. Not simply down years but every year relies on the Christmas season to keep it afloat; with the economy in as much jeopardy as it is currently, we need some good news from the holidays to keep us from sliding off our tenuous perch at the edge of financial precipice.

But what is strange is the silence in the economic community about what is surely an early-warning bell-weather of our holiday mood, Halloween. Not to put too much of a damper on what is, after all, a pure-entertainment “holiday,” of course. But Halloween’s share of the marketplace has grown exponentially over the last decade. According to this article written in 2006, each of us is likely to spend as much as $60 dollars on Halloween stuff on average. That’s not Christmas territory by any means, but that’s a hell of a lot of money for a single two- to three-hour celebration. Halloween is getting close to Valentine’s Day, where we spend around $122 a person when the economy doesn’t suck.

But as that last link points out, such frivolous expenses can and are easily shed when the economy is bad. Valentine’s and Halloween are even more expendable celebrations than Christmas is. So the question is: what will Halloween sales look like this year and what does that say about the Christmas season?