With nearly seven in 10 Americans planning to celebrate Halloween, Oct. 31 is one of the fastest growing holidays of the year. And for good reason, it is a chance to break away from day-to-day routines to let loose and have some fun.
A National Retail Federation survey said Americans will spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, and a good chunk of that will be spent on costumes.
Don’t be fooled: Halloween isn’t just for kids. In fact, more money is expected to be spent on adult costumes this year than on costumes for children.
The trade group estimates there will 6 million adults dressing as a witch, and 3.2 million dressing as a vampire. Trailing those costume choices are the traditional fare: pirates, super heroes, and zombies. Yet costume retailers also see some other trends creeping into Halloween fare this year.
Among them is a growing preference for humorous costumes. Some of these are based on popular television shows or newsworthy public figures.
“Choosing a costume is one of the most entertaining parts of Halloween,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. So choose wisely.
Click ahead to see some of the trendiest Halloween costumes this year.
By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 27 Sept 2012
Suggested Price: $16.99 and up
With the election looming, more than 767,000 Halloween party-goers are expected to wear some sort of political costume, according to NRF’s survey, conducted by the firm BIGinsight.
This means President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be going head-to-head at the costume shop, as well as at the polls. Some costume retailers suggest that mask purchases may even predict the outcome of the election.
Of course, not everyone uses their costume choice to express their political leanings. Some will just aim for a good laugh. So don’t be surprised if you see “Romney” at a Halloween party with “Snooki” from “Jersey Shore” at his side. He’ll probably just be spoofing Romney’s recent comment that he’s kind of a “Snooki fan.”
Suggested Price: $29.99
Funny costumes seem to be in higher demand this year – particularly those that are food-related, according to Karen van Ert, chief marketing officer of Buy Seasons.
If you want to go for gastronomic giggles, there are a wide range of choices: pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes, and yes, even bacon. In contrast to the supermarket, there’s no bacon shortage at the costume shop.
BuyCostumes.com sells the bacon costume, pictured here. However, if you are after a more formal bacon look, there is the option of a bacon suit or cocktail dress. They also have a bacon baby bunting (say that three times fast. Bacon baby bunting. Bacon baby bunting. Bacon baby bunting.
Suggested Price: $89.99
Perhaps playing off the popularity of anime, there are a number of newer costumes that feature furry accessories. This costume portrays a lion, but the style is also seen in a number of monster costumes as well.
Suggested Price: $89.99
Movies often are a source of Halloween inspiration, and this year is no different. Seth MacFarlane’s movie, “Ted,” has inspired a few costume ideas. Spirit Halloween is rushing a Ted bear costume into the store, but in order to complete the look you may want to add on a few accessories to make it more recognizable. One example is the cashier apron, or the business suit that Ted wore in the movie.
Suggested Price: $79.99
Anime costumes are moving from niche to mainstream, according to BuySeason’s Van Erst. BuyCostumes is selling a costume for those who want to dress like the popular Anime character Sailor Moon.
However, for those who simply want to dress in Anime style, there are now wigs that replicate the long hair typically associated with that look. There also are plenty of accessories such as furry paw gloves, ears and tails, which also mimic the look. This means you can take almost any costume, and dress it up Anime-style.
Skin Suit Suggested Price: $34.99 to $44.99
Accessory prices vary
Skin suits have become a popular Halloween staple, but this year update the look by adding funny accessories to make a new character.
Several retailers are saying that they are seeing a rise in sales of Halloween costume accessories. One reason is that consumers are using accessories to customize their look, sometimes morphing together two classic Halloween costumes to make a unique new version. For example, taking a bridal costume and turning it into a zombie.
The skin suits form an excellent base for this concept. Pictured here is a skin suit combined with clown accessories, but other ideas include a basketball player, a super hero, and a rocker girl.
The NRF expects to see a lot more athlete-themed costumes, possibly a nod to this summer’s Olympics.
Suggested price: $39.99
Any costume that advertises that it includes a “battery-operated fan” is worth a look.
Pictured here is an inflatable ballerina costume, but there are other inflatable costumes as well, including the “Ghostbusters” Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
New for this year are Blimpz inflatable costumes, which are similar to skin suits except they have a round blown-out shape, rather than the slim skin-tight look of the skin suits. The Blimpz costumes can be accessorized in the same way skin suits are for a more complete look.
Suggested Price: $149.99
Sexy costumes are always a Halloween staple. This princess costume from the Costume Confidential line is a good example. There are 14 different costumes in the product line, each with a lot of detail and higher quality fabric than you typically see in less pricier costumes.
Suggested Price: Varies
The self-proclaimed redneck reality TV stars of TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” are inspiring a lot of costume ideas this year.
Costume retailers expect Halloween party-goers to dress as child pageant star Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her mother June Shannon. The rest of the family may be fair game as well. Even Alana’s brief pet, Glitzy the pig, is not off limits.
Although there are no official “Honey Boo Boo” costumes, Halloween costume shops are sure to have the right accessories to pull off the look. Pictured here is a kid pageant dress costume.
Suggested Price: Varies
With its catchy rhythm and its humorous video, not to mention Korean musician PSY’s crazy dance moves, Gangnam style has taken the world by storm. As of late September, the music video had been viewed more than 292 million times.
Since the video has inspired numerous parodies – including one from the North Korean government – and “Gangnam Style” flash mobs, no doubt there will be Halloween party-goers dressing “Gangnam Style.”
“Ship Shape Captain” Suggested Price: $49.99
“Sailor” Suggested Price: $29.99
Spirit Halloween CEO Steve Silverstein expects to see a rise in the number of people wearing what he calls “everyday heroes.” This includes military-style costumes, as well as those resembling police and firefighters.
Suggested Price: Varies
The desire to dress like a police officer may be why handcuff sales are up at costume shops. Still, there could be another – decidedly different –reason why sales for that particular accessory are on the rise.
With the huge popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” series, more than a few people may be looking to create their own versions of the characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.
Some interpretations could be rather tame, such as taking 50 shades of grey fabric and stitching them together into some form or another. But it’s more likely an aspiring Mr. Grey will dress in a suit with a tie; a want-to-be Anastasia has a longer list of options. So many, in fact, that Pinterest has a page of ideas of what would be in Ana’s closet.
Suggested Price: $44.99
Retro characters are another trendy theme for Halloween. Pictured here is “Cheer Bear” from the Care Bears costume line. The American Greetings (AM)characters may be more than 30 years old, but the characters recently returned to TV with a new animated series on The Hub, a children’s network owned by Discovery Communications (DISCA)and Hasbro (HAS).
Suggested Price: $59.99
Power Rangers is another long-running franchise that continues to be a popular costume each year. Retailers will have Power Ranger costumes available for both men and women, as well as a child’s version.
In general, retailers are expecting super heroes to be hot costumes. Batman was the fourth most popular costume idea, according to the NRF’s survey. Yet retailers also expect to see demand for all of Marvel’s (DIS)“Avengers” heroes, especially Hulk and Captain America.
Another trend highlighted by Spirit Halloween’s Silverstein is that many shoppers are now buying more costumes of secondary characters, in addition to the main heroes.
Suggested Price: $34.99
Vinyl masks are not that popular because they tend to be hard to wear at a party. However, manufacturers are trying to drive up sales by offering up “ani-motion” masks that allow the mask to have more movement.
Suggested Price: $69.99
Forget the flimsy costumes: this year, consumers are looking for higher-quality fabrics, well-sewn seams, and embellishments.
“They want a lot more bells and whistles and a more finished look,” said Cheryl Kerzner, vice president of design and marketing at Jakks Pacific’s Disguise unit.
It’s especially true for the more revealing women’s costumes. Many now are made with Shapewear. This, for example, is a pirate, which ranked as the third most popular choice for adult costumes this year.