Why Sandy's Not Stealing Halloween

'Frankenstorm' May Ruin Holiday for Kids, But Comes Too Late to Throw a Scare Into Candy, Costume Sales

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Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to batter 18 states with wind, rain and even snow, may extinguish Halloween plans for millions of consumers, but she has arrived too late to hurt retail sales for Halloween.

The National Retail Federation predicted Halloween spending would reach $8 billion, with the average person doling out about $80 on decorations, costumes and candy. A record seven in 10 Americans reported that they plan to participate in Halloween activities. While the storm could affect the number of children celebrating the holiday on Wednesday, the vast majority of retail sales have already taken place, said Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the NRF.

"Even with last-minute shoppers, the majority of shoppers likely shopped this weekend before the storm was around," Ms. Grannis said. "It will likely have an impact on small retailers who are specifically in the business of Halloween . . . and bars and restaurants who were planning Halloween events. If they don't have locations across the country, they'll likely feel the pinch. For large retailers and chain stores, this is not going to impact their bottom line."

While Halloween provides retailers with a reason to attract shoppers between the back-to-school and holiday seasons, it does not generate the same sales volume of Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day or Mother 's Day, all of which involve gifts or elaborate meals.

"The costume business is certainly growing in popularity. It's bigger than it's ever been," Ms. Grannis said. (The NRF reported the average customer was expected to spend $43.60 on costumes.) "But Halloween still isn't a gift-giving holiday," she said.

The biggest gift-giving holiday of the year is just around the corner. And some retailers have already begun holiday advertising campaigns. Still, it's unlikely Hurricane Sandy will put a huge damper on sales. "These early-bird shoppers -- and there's a lot of them -- they're not buying gifts yet," Ms. Grannis said. "So this is not anything to worry about."

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