Halloween spending down overall, but rises for pets


More than 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year and total spending should reach $6.9 billion.

But many appear to be a bit spooked over the economy. The average person who celebrates the holiday Saturday will spend $74.34, down from $77.52 last year, according to the National Retail Federation's Halloween Consumer Spending Survey.

The drop in spending doesn't phase the manager of an area thrift store that caters to Halloween shoppers.

"It gets bigger and bigger every year," said Dan Drake, manager of the Americans Thrift Stores outlet in Hixson near Northgate Mall.

The for-profit thrift store sells some pre-made, previously owned costumes, Drake said. But the store's main focus during Halloween is to help people put together their own costumes at different "hubs," or clothes racks stocked with costume-worthy clothes and accessory.

"You want to be a pirate?" Drake asked. "A man would never think of getting a pair of women's capri [pants] — which look just like pirate pants."

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The Ark Pet Spa and Hotel hopes to capitalize on the fact that 20 million pet owners will dress up their cat or dog for Halloween. That appears to be a growing trend, since 20 percent of Millennials, or people who reached adulthood around 2000, will do so, the survey found, up from 13 percent of average adults.

"We've got costumes here, and we do a Halloween party every year," said Adam Harbin, marketing director for the Ark, which has locations on Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank and on East Brainerd Road.

The luxury kennel will host a Halloween Party during the day Saturday. Spend $20 for a "daycare session," and your pet will get to strut its stuff at a costume party and get an 8-by-10-inch color photo to commemorate the event along with a doggy treat bag.

The Ark has carried pet costumes for at least five years, Harbin said, since it wanted to capture business from the growing Halloween market for pets.

"We thought they might as well buy costumes and treat from us," he said.

Beauty and the Beast Costumes, at 3708 Dayton Blvd. in Red Bank, has sold and rented costumes since 1989.

Business there was "crazy" Thursday afternoon, said store manager Susan Stringer who co-owns the costume shop with her mother, Mary Fugate, who turned 85 Saturday.

The slight downturn in spending hadn't hit the store, which has seen the same level of sales as last year, Stringer said. The big costumes this year, she said, are Captain America and Cruella DeVil.

"We sold out of [Cruella DeVil] wigs," she said.

Americans Thrift Stores' employees keep an eye out all year for items to sell on Halloween, Drake said, such as black dresses for witches. Likewise, they set aside goofy sweaters to sell for Christmas.

"Those come out Monday," Drake said of the Christmas sweaters.

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