East Penn Press

Friday, October 19, 2018


Wednesday, October 25, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

The business of Halloween is big, $9.1 million BIG

When did purple become a Halloween color? And, for that matter, what about green?

Purple may be the harder to pinpoint. But green? The easy answer is when Halloween became such big business.

According to statistics from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics released in September, U.S. residents are expected to spend a record-breaking $9.1 billion on Halloween this year.

And that total is up a little over eight percent from 2016 when sales touched $8.3 billion, also a record.

Big money is spent on everything from costumes to party decorations, store-bought candy to fresh pumpkins, admission tickets to elaborately staged haunted houses and old-school tractor-pulled hayrides.

You can see the financial powerhouse Halloween has become in mail order catalogs and on websites where doormats featuring bright colored jack-o-lanterns share space with lighted spider webs to be displayed outdoors.

Giant box store hardware emporiums display for sale inflatable decorations to tower, hover and, in some cases, menace, over your neighbor’s yard from your front lawn.

Discount stores offer glittering table decorations, many colored the aforementioned purple, for $1 if not less. And grocery stores offer shoppers candy in too many sizes, shapes and packaging formats to feasibly count.

For example, during a recent trip to one local grocery store, a glittering purple and black striped witch hat shared shelf space with a pumpkin-themed treat bag promising to glow-in-the-dark and a clapboard sign featuring a painting of a haunted house emblazoned with seasonal greetings of “Happy Halloween” to display in your kitchen, front window or back gate.

And let’s not forget the cottage industry of Halloween titled and themed movies.

Not bad for a holiday deeply rooted in superstition, fear, trickery and bonfires.

Halloween as we know it, according to historians, emerged from a jumble of sources. Ancient Celtic ritual, Roman tradition, Christianity, elements of favorite practices of Native Americans, Colonial-era American settlers, and later, European immigrants have given us Halloween as we know it today. In the process, the focus of purpose shifted from warding off and appeasing demons, predicting future harvests, sorcery, witchcraft and celebrating the coming year to community gatherings, classroom parties and parades.

Church congregations and civic groups now offer “trunk-or-treat” events to allow a safe environment for children and the young at heart to model costumes and collect treats from friends, family and parishioners. And local Halloween custom in Emmaus, Macungie and other communities now includes 5K runs to mark the still spooky occasion.

Whatever your budget, stay safe this Halloween. Take care crossing the street when wearing that fancy, and possibly expensive, Halloween costume to collect those miniature chocolate bars. And, if on the giving end, consider becoming part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, started in 2014 by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. Display said teal pumpkin to alert little ghosts and goblins you have treats for allergy sufferers beneath the hem of your witch cape.

And be on the lookout for things that go bump in the night.

April Peterson

editorial assistant

East Penn Press

Salisbury Press