by Vincent Grassi, Monmouth University Polling Institute Intern
Halloween is almost here, and according to the Monmouth University Poll that is good news for the 45% of Americans who say Halloween is either their favorite or one of their favorite holidays. Here, I will discuss some of the trends, safety considerations, and news surrounding the spooky fall holiday.
The poll finds that 29% of adults plan on dressing up for Halloween this year. If you are looking for a unique costume, check out Google Trend’s “Frightgeist” website to see what to avoid. It shows the most searched for costumes on both a national and local level, as well as each costume’s trending status over time and the popularity of different costume categories. At the moment, searches for costumes related to the horror movie IT take the top spot while witch and Spiderman costumes trail in second and third, respectively.
An annual survey by the National Retail Federation projects Halloween spending to reach 8.8 billion in 2019, slightly behind the 9 billion consumers spent last year and 9.1 billion in 2017. The survey also shows the trend of dressing up pets for Halloween. Americans are expected to spend $490 million on costumes for their pets, with the most popular being pumpkins, hot dogs and superheroes. Overall, the NRF survey found that consumers plan to spend 2.6 billion on Halloween candy this year.
The Monmouth poll finds that out of eight top-selling Halloween candies, a plurality of Americans (36%) pick Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as their favorite, while Snickers (18%) place second and M&M’s (11%) take third. Whether you grab the candy mix bags from Walmart or splurge on packs of full-size candy bars, make sure you stock up on enough. According to the poll seven-in-ten parents and caregivers report that their children plan to go trick-or-treating this year.
Among those (70%) who say their children plan to go trick-or-treating, the poll finds almost all children (95%) and even most teenagers (76%) will be accompanied by an adult. To help keep children safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published some important safety considerations. They advise parents to rethink letting children wear masks as it can obstruct their vision, making sure their costumes fit appropriately to avoid trips and falls, giving children glow sticks or donning them with reflective tape if they plan to go out later in the evening or at night, and purchasing fire-resistant costumes, wigs, and accessories.
In an effort to address safety concerns regarding motor vehicle accidents on Halloween and make celebrating more accessible to other age groups, the Halloween and Costume Association started a petition in 2018 on Change.org to move Halloween from October 31st to the last Saturday of October. The petition would be sent to the president for his consideration if their goal number of signatures is met. In July, the petition was updated to reflect concerns over the holiday’s historical significance and cultural and religious ties. Now, the petition calls for the creation of a separate National Trick or Treat Day to be held on the last Saturday of October in addition to Halloween, “so families across the country can participate in community parades, throw neighborhood parties and opt for daytime Trick or Treating.”
Not only does the petition aim to reduce the number of accidents involving cars and kids, but it is also trying to make the holiday more accessible to other age groups other than children. This effort may reflect the poll’s finding that just about three-in-five (58%) adults aged 18-34 said Halloween was either their favorite holiday or one of their favorite holidays. The poll also finds that half of those aged 18-34 plan to wear a costume.
Changing the date on which Halloween trick-or-treating takes place is not unheard of. One example was after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when former NJ Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order that postponed Halloween to the following Monday due to unsafe conditions caused by the storm.
Trunk or Treat events also uphold safety priorities and act as a safer alternative to door to door trick-or-treating. These events are usually held prior to Halloween in blocked off parking lots and are hosted by the community, local schools, or local churches. It is praised as being more convenient for parents and, more importantly, safer for children. This year, Monmouth University will be hosting its Trunk or Treat event on 11/3 at 12-2 p.m. in lot 16. You can also find a list of other Trunk or Treat events happening all over NJ here.
Whether you enjoy decorating your home with spooky decorations, taking your children trick-or-treating, watching scary movies, or attending a Halloween costume party – have fun, be safe, and Happy Halloween!