Election turmoil boosts Halloween spending to all-time high


It seems that there is one thing that can unite voters this election cycle: Halloween.

Americans are slated to spend about $8.4 billion this October for costumes, candy and parties, an all-time high since the National Retail Federation first began tracking Halloween spending 11 years ago.

The record high spending isn't a glitch, said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for Prosper Insights & Analytics. In fact, it's right on trend.

"During presidential election cycles, we tend to see spikes in planned Halloween spending as well as intent among adults to dress in costume," she told CNBC. "This has been especially apparent since the Great Recession, so it seems that uncertainty in the economy as well as the political arena create a bigger need for consumers to 'escape' their everyday lives and have a little fun on Halloween for a relatively small financial outlay."

People wearing the masks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are seen during the 42nd Annual Halloween Parade on October 31, 2015 in New York City.
Bilgin S. Sasmaz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Goodfellow noted that each election year Halloween spending breaks the record set during the previous election cycle.

One factor is the increased likelihood of adults to dress up during an election year.

This year, political costumes are the third most popular costumes for adults over the age of 35, just behind witches and pirates.

Overall, more than 47 percent of adults aged 18 and over who plan to celebrate Halloween will dress in costume, according to Goodfellow. This is almost 10 percent higher than participation in 2015 and is the highest level in the 14-year history of Prosper Insights and Analytics' Halloween survey.

More than 171 million Americans will partake in Halloween festivities this year, spending about $83 each, up from $74 last year, according to the NRF. The previous Halloween spending record was just under $80 in 2012, the last presidential election year.

Despite the notable gains, Halloween spending is about a tenth of what consumers plan to spend during the winter holiday season, Goodfellow said.