Rising Halloween costs make trick-or-treating less of a treat this year – Cronkite News

Shoppers walk past the Halloween Candy Show at Fry’s Food and Drug in Phoenix on Thursday. Candy is just one of the things one can expect to pay more for this Halloween. (Photo by Alexia Faith/Cronkite News)

According to the National Retail Federation, Spider-Man is one of the most popular children’s costumes for Halloween this year, but like other costumes related to this year’s holiday, the costume is more expensive. (Photo by Alexia Faith/Cronkite News)

Mesa’s Char Calvert has been with Mesa’s family business, Fun Costumes, for the past 15 years. Owner Angela Ott said she has seen wholesale prices for clothing go up this year, while quality goes down. (Photo by Alexia Faith/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON — The only thing scarier than ghosts, ghouls and goblins this Halloween may be the price hikes for candy, costumes and pumpkins.

Candy is up 13 percent from last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and pumpkin prices in the Southwest were up about 13 percent as of mid-October this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the BLS doesn’t track clothing costs, it does say clothing costs are typically up 5.5% from last year — and one clothing store owner reported paying much more.

That’s not surprising given inflation across the economy, one expert said.

“Halloween is a unique event every year, but it’s not immune to the inflationary pressures that other consumer economies are experiencing,” said Garrick Taylor, executive vice president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Rising prices, combined with a post-pandemic surge in Halloween interest, could see holiday sales hit a record $10.6 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey of 8,283 people.

The largest $3.6 billion will go to apparel, with an estimated $700 million going to pet apparel, according to the NRF.

Angela Ott, owner of Fun Costumes, a small family-owned store in Mesa, said she has seen wholesale prices for the clothing she buys go up this year, while quality goes down.

Reese Walford, owner of Candy Addicts in Tempe, said he has had to raise prices to make up for higher inventory costs this year. (Photo by Alexia Faith/Cronkite News)

“We’re not talking about five cents,” she said. “We’re talking about clothing, which is about $8 to $10, and that’s my markup for the client.”

According to the NRF survey, the most popular children’s costumes for Halloween this year are Spider-Man, Princess and Witch, while adults prefer witches, vampires and ghosts. For popular costumes like Spider-Man and other superheroes, Ott says prices in her store range from $36 to $48.

Ott and other retailers said they had to raise prices to keep up with rising costs. That was the case with Tempe Candy Addicts owner Reese Walford, who said he also had to raise prices to make up for rising inventory costs.

“We’re paying more for candy, and we have to sell more to continue to maintain the same profit margins,” he said. But Wolford hopes that won’t last long. He joked that no one wants to spend a lot of money on candy.

“We want cheap candy,” he added.

The cost of another Halloween staple has risen, but at least two Arizona farms say they are holding on to the retail price of pumpkins this year.

At Mortimer Farms in Dewey and Apple Anne Orchards in Wilcox, pumpkin prices did not rise despite higher costs for seeds, water, fertilizer and labor. Both farms were reluctant to increase pumpkin prices, opting instead to increase entry fees, fruit and vegetables or other products.

“Pumpkin is the only thing we haven’t raised prices on,” said Ashley Mortimer, chief marketing officer at Mortimer Farms. “We almost bite the bullet and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to make money on pumpkins.'”

Mandy Kirkendall, manager and entertainment director at Apple Annie’s Orchard, agrees.

“We had to raise some other prices,” Kirkendall said. “We grew vegetables, pies and doughnuts.”

(Video by Hayley Smilo/Cronkite News)

According to the NRF survey, 69% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 65% last year. The increase in engagement helped offset a small drop in spending, with the average amount falling from $102.74 per person last year to $100.45 this year.

Cost-conscious consumers who want to trick or treat without stickers have options if they’re a little creative.

“One thing you can save is making your own clothing at home, or going back to sheets with cutouts,” said Lee McPheters, an economics professor at Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business.

Saving on candy can be as simple as buying “regular candy corn instead of designer candy bars,” Taylor said.

Candystore.com’s sales analysis shows that the top three candies in Arizona are Hershey Kisses, Hot Tamales and Snickers, while the top three nationally are Reese’s Cups, Skittles and M&M’s.

McPheeters thinks high inflation is not enough to dampen the urge to go out and spend for Halloween.

“There’s a general feeling in the economy that it’s time to get back to normal,” he said. “The stage is ready for a booming Halloween.”

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