More people are expected to buy spooky outfits and celebrate Halloween this year, a $5.8 billion treat for sellers of costumes, candy and decorations.
Whether it's as freak or fairy or some other favorite persona, 148 million Americans will engage in some type of Halloween activity this year, the National Retail Federation said.
Americans are expected to spend an average of $66.28 on Halloween, a 17.7 percent increase from 2009.
"I think it's really about inexpensive escapism," said Mike Kraus, chief executive officer of California-based retail-consulting firm StoreTouch. "I think people are at the point now where the bad news just kind of doesn't let up. They're feeling like, 'I've got to do something to make myself feel better about my situation.' "
At Masquerade Costumes in Lauderhill, sales of Halloween-related costumes and accessories are about the same this year as last, but it's early yet, as many customers are still undecided about what they want to wear, co-owner Indee Rapp said.
Rapp said fairy-tale themes such as Alice in Wonderland are popular with children.
For women, sexy costumes are repeat favorites, meanwhile other items like 70's Afro Wigs are "disappearing fast."
At Dale Ryan's three Halloween Express South Florida stores sales have been steady since their September opening.
Ryan said he anticipates a boost in store traffic and sales the Friday and Saturday before Halloween, but could also see last-minute buys on the day itself.
By falling on a Sunday this year, Halloween is expected to boost spending because there will be more opportunities to attend and throw parties.
Weston resident Monica Sanclemente was shopping for costumes in the store Monday in preparation for Halloween.
"The parties are a lot of fun," said Sanclemente, 40, who decided on a witch and vampire costume for the two Halloween parties she had planned.
Sanclemente said she's spending about the same as last year on Halloween – about $300, which includes costumes, accessories and make-up.
More than 40 percent of respondents to the NRF's annual Halloween poll plan to dress up — a big jump from last year's 33 percent and the largest percentage since the survey started in 2003. Spending on adults costumes — about $1 billion — is expected to exceed the $800 million budgeted on children's costumes.
"I think there's more variety in terms of adult costumes than ever before," said Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the federation. "Retailers are really cashing in on Hollywood and pop culture, in terms of offering different adult costumes."
Also popular this year are costume themes and characters such as Lady Gaga outfits, the cast of the Jersey Shore reality television show, Toy Story 3 and Avatar movies, among others.
Still, not everyone is getting into the spirit. About 30 percent of consumers — close to the same percentage as last year — say the economy will dampen their plans.
As such retailers are brewing up discounts to appeal to the thrifty.
Kmart has advertised up to 40 percent off on Halloween costumes and décor purchased online. Halloween Express is offering a 10 percent discount coupon redeemable online and in select retail outlets through Oct. 22.
And Party City, with its tagline "Nobody has more Halloween for less" has costumes priced as low as $9.99.
Retailers are trying to capture more revenue from Halloween by adding stores.
According to Los Angeles-based research firm IBISWorld, the number of pop-up stores offering Halloween goods has climbed 15 percent this year to 1,500 outlets, up from roughly 1,300 last year.
Among those opening more outlets this year is Spirit Halloween.
Spirit has boosted the number of temporary stores across North America from 725 in 2009 to 875 this year, including more than a dozen South Florida locations.
More than 12,000 workers were hired to staff the stores, a Spirit Halloween spokesperson said.