As the crisp October air starts to settle in, consumers are already on the hunt for their perfect Halloween get-ups. And while traditional costumes from princesses to pirates are expected to remain among the most popular, 2014 is already shaping up to be a year that brings its own nuances.
For one, partygoers appear to be shying away from the Beyoncés and Katy Perrys of years' past. Instead, they are getting their celeb fix by dressing as social media stars. They're also bringing a dose of pop culture by snatching up costumes based on TV and movie characters, including the still-hot "Frozen" princesses Elsa and Anna.
Because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, many will celebrate all weekend long. This means there are shoppers who are stocking up—and spending more—so they're not caught wearing the same outfit again on Saturday. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average $77.52 on Halloween this year, compared to $75.03 in 2013. A large chunk of that money will be shelled out on costumes, with more than two-thirds of people celebrating the holiday planning to buy one. That's the most in the survey's 11-year history.
"Consumers do seem more inclined to spend again this year, with a Friday Halloween and a sense that the economy is improving," said Ken Russell, vice president of sales for Disguise costume manufacturer. "Folks seem willing to spend over $50 again for their costumes and accessories."
Click ahead to see some of the trendiest—and wackiest—costumes that are in stores this Halloween.
—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson
Posted 4 Oct. 2014
You now have 24 hours to complete the ice bucket challenge. Or, you can build your own costume around the social media sensation.
By using a clear, plastic bucket; tinsel; and silver balloons, BuyCostumes.com offers instructions for how partygoers can recreate the challenge heard 'round the digital world.
In the Internet age, celebrities aren't limited to a single species. After millions of people watched a YouTube video of what first appeared to be a mutant spider—but ended up being nothing more than a dressed-up dog—BuyCostumes.com shows pet owners what they need to turn their furry friend into a spiderdog.
"I'm a mouse, duh."
With those four words, spoken by a scantily-clad Amanda Seyfried (whose character, Karen, was dressed in black lingerie and mouse ears), the 2004 film "Mean Girls" astutely pointed out that some women use Halloween as a means to dress a little more risqué than they do the other 364 days of the year.
Ten years later, that trend is still going strong. Yandy.com has made a name for itself as a destination for racy Halloween costumes, which sometimes beg the question, can a piece of pizza really be sexy? New to its lineup this year are a sexy sock monkey (at left), a sexy lobster and a "sexy" clown that looks an awful lot like Ronald McDonald.
Who said sexy is just for women? Men can tap into the trend through Yandy's furry fox, furry wolf or furry brown bear costumes. Matching women's outfits sold separately.
Halloween is also a time when many partygoers—some who are taking the kids trick-or-treating, and others who simply miss the days of going door to door for candy—feel a pang of nostalgia. As such, old-school Halloween costumes such as Waldo and the Cat in the Hat are expected to be top sellers this year.
So much for the old-school bodysuit. After evolving from a monochromatic piece of polyester into a more design-heavy costume (think Spider-Man), the bodysuit is now catering to "Sesame Street" lovers in the likeness of Bert or Ernie. If Elmo or Cookie Monster is more your speed, Jakks Pacific's Disguise has you covered too.
Superheroes are always a big seller, and 2014 is no different. They're especially trendy this year, Barr said, because it's the 75th anniversary of "Batman," and because "Captain America" and "Transformers" were recent hit movies.
For an updated twist on this trend, Disguise's Russell said its Fiercely Femme collection—fashion-based bustiers meant to be worn with a woman's own skirt or pants—have caught on nicely.
Not one Halloween will ever go by without a witch, nurse or doctor showing up at the block party. But who says classic costumes have to be boring? BuyCostumes.com put a fresh take on an old trend by dressing one of its doctors in a jacket with the nametag "Dr. Bud Smoker."
"No need to move to Washington or Colorado; you'll be flying high in this Dr. Bud Smoker Doctor Jacket," the site says.
Top movie franchises such as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Frozen" have been boosting toy sales over the past few months. Now, that trend has crossed over into costumes.
Along with those two franchises, online Halloween shop BuyCostumes.com said "Guardians of the Galaxy" (at left), which was released earlier this year, has been "more popular than we anticipated."
At Spirit Halloween, some of the costumes tied to the film have already sold out online. Lisa Barr, senior director of marketing and creative, said the retailer will not be restocking its digital shelves.
"Trick-or-treaters better hurry," she said. "Because these costumes are flying off the shelves."
Costume shops are also betting on Disney's "Maleficent," which Disguise's Russell said is "proving to be very popular."
Like movie franchises, TV franchises are also on the hot list. Spirit Halloween teamed up with Greg Nicotero, executive producer and special effects makeup designer for "The Walking Dead," to create exclusive costumes that "really speak to the diehard 'Walking Dead' fan," Spirit Halloween's Barr said.
Costumes based on HBO's "Game of Thrones" also continue to be popular, Barr said.