Halloween could come costumed as a shining beacon of economic recovery this year as Americans plan to return to 2008 spending levels on candy and costumes after pulling back in fear last year.
A heavy-breathing ghoul may still be hiding in the back seat, of course, waiting to drag consumers back into economic gloom later in the year. But for now, consumers plan to have a little fun.
Americans plan to spend on average $66.28 on decorations, food and festive attire, significantly above the $56.31 they budgeted last year, according to the results of a consumer survey done by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation.
"In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the Washington retail group, in a prepared statement.
That echoes the analysis offered in 2008, when the world's financial markets were melting (not exactly like the Wicked Witch), but consumers were budgeting $66.54, up from the previous year.
The retail organization's official quote that year was: "Consumers -- who have been anxious and uncertain for the past several months -- may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to forget the stresses of daily life and just have a little fun." Tracy Mullin was NRF president and CEO then.
Ghosts and goblins may have more opportunities to roam this year as the holiday falls on a Sunday, turning the entire weekend into a chance to get out the fake blood and play "The Monster Mash."
More than 70 percent of those surveyed plan to hand out candy, and about half will decorate their homes or yards.
Not everybody is into the whole costume thing, but the survey found 40.1 percent planning to dress up. Last year, just 33.4 percent were willing.
A solid 30.1 percent of consumers said the state of the U.S. economy would affect their plans, generally by spurring them to spend less than they might have.
That might mean buying less candy, using last year's decorations or skipping that visit to a haunted house.