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story.lead_photo.caption Meredith Cordoza, an employee at Halloween Express, plays with an animated Pennywise figure Wednesday at the store in the Frisco Station Mall in Rogers. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/1013halloween/ - Photo by Andy Shupe

FAYETTEVILLE -- Halloween this year is expected to mean big money for retailers, with predicted revenue of $8.8 billion, while consumers look more and more to social media for inspiration for their spending during the spooky season.

According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, this Halloween is on track to be the third-largest on record for spending, behind second place 2018 with $9 billion and record holder 2017 with $9.1 billion. Shoppers are expected to individually fork over $86.27 on Halloween this year with 35% of them looking online for costume and decoration ideas.

It's expected that 68% of shoppers will celebrate Halloween this year, and nearly 40% intended to start shopping before October.

Dan Mendelsohn, consignment operator for Spirit Halloween in Arkansas and parts of Tennessee, said business has been brisk so far. In Arkansas, the company has stores in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Conway and Jonesboro.

Gallery: Retailers ready for Halloween

Mendelsohn said the Fayetteville pop-up store is in a former Toys R Us building in a lively shopping mall on North College Avenue across from the Northwest Arkansas Mall. He said having a store of that size and with that much open floor space is a first for the company in the Fayetteville area.

"Never before were we able to bring the full Spirit Halloween experience to Fayetteville," he said. "You often have to downsize to fit what space is available."

The store includes a large pirate ship display that features a variety of animatronic figures, from a skull-faced monster who speaks to passers-by, to creepy clowns who ask for hugs when shoppers step on an electronic pad. The rest of the store consists of aisles and aisles of costumes, lights and decorations, including accessories like wigs, hats and masks.

"It's all about the in-store experience," Mendelsohn said. "We invite the customer to come and play, press a button and have fun."

The National Retail Federation survey said 48% of Halloween shoppers plan to visit discount stores, 36% will spend money at a Halloween specialty shop and 25% will spend some money at a supermarket or grocery store. About 25% of those surveyed said they'd do some shopping online.

Online is also where many shoppers go for inspiration, with 35% saying they'll use online searches to help them decide how to spend their cash. Pintrest is where most plan to look on social media, with 18% saying they'll see something they want on the site, 16% said they'd look to Facebook, 14% to YouTube, 14% to Instagram and 6% to Twitter.

For more than 10 years, the retail federation has used Prosper Insights & Analytics to survey how people in the U.S. celebrate Halloween. The 2019 survey taken in early September involved more than 7,400 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2%.

The survey found that 70% of people in the U.S.' Northeast planned to participate in Halloween celebrations, and they planned to spend the most -- nearly $93 per person. In the West, 67% of survey respondents planned to attend celebrations, and they planned to spend the least at a little more than $83 per person.

The most money will be spent on costumes at $3.2 billion. Another $2.7 billion will be shelled out for decor; $2.6 billion for candy; and $390 for greeting cards. Survey results showed that men planned to spend more on costumes, but more women planned to celebrate the day.

Angela Lemke owns the Halloween Express store in the Frisco Station Mall in Rogers. She has owned the operation for seven years. There is also a Halloween Express store in Little Rock.

This year, she said, everything Pennywise is big, referring to the killer clown from Stephen King's book and the recent film series It Chapter 1 and It Chapter 2. She said Pennywise costumes are selling well, as are animatronic figures, making clowns in general big sellers. She said funny costumes are also popular with adults, and costumes based on The Purge films are always big with teens.

She said typically customers initially enter the store and window shop, getting in the mood for Halloween and weighing their options, but then really start buying as Halloween approaches.

Lemke added that she has a lot of repeat customers in the store who buy costumes and gear up for the Halloween activities.

"I have seen kids grow up over the years," she said.

SundayMonday Business on 10/13/2019

Print Headline: Halloween set to scare up billions

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