While Halloween may be a retailers dream, from an environmental perspective it is a nightmare. On this day consumers generate a mountain of waste including tons of non-biodegradable candy wrappers and plastic items like decorations and costumes.
After an apparent decline last year, Halloween appears to be growing in popularity and it is expected that Americans will increase their spending in 2014.
During the period between October and December, retailers make up as much as 30 percent of their yearly sales numbers. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are expected to spend a total of 7.4 billion on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards this year. This represents a 7 percent increase over last year.
The two worst Halloween buys for the environment are decorations and costumes. Both are commonly made of plastic that end up in landfills and do not break down. Plastics also contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates toxins including bisphenolic compounds like BPA.
Surpassed only by Christmas, Halloween is the second biggest decorating holiday of the year. Decoration sales have gone from $84 million in 2005 to $2 billion this year.
Consumers are expected to spend $2.44 billion on costumes. There are more adult costumes being sold on Halloween than are worn by the estimated 41 million kids that will be going door to door trick or treating tonight. The spend on pet costumes has grown from $220 million in 2010 to $350 million in 2014 as about 23 million people are expected to dress up their pets this year.
The 2014 spend breaks down to an average of $77.52 per person representing a 63 percent increase over 2005. The average spend on costumes is expected to be $27.85, and candy is expected to average $22.37 per person.
Halloween candy has gone from $1.16 billion in 2005 to a projected $2.23 billion this year. Chocolate is the favorite Halloween candy, with more than 90 million pounds being sold, followed by candy corn, more than 35 million pounds of the sweet confectionery are produced each year.