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Halloween big boost to East Texas retailers

By Richard Yeakley
Oct. 24, 2012 at 11 p.m.

A city doesn't need a ghoulish name like Transylvania County, N.C., Tombstone, Ariz., or Pumpkin Bend, Ark., to profit from the more than $8 billion expected to be spent on Halloween.

In fact, the National Retail Federation calls Halloween a growing holiday that is expected to cost the average celebrant almost $80 on decorations, costumes and candy.

The organization reports Halloween is second only to the Christmas shopping season as a boom to the nation's retailers.

"By the time Halloween rolls around each year, it's safe to say Americans have already spent two months preparing for one of the fastest-growing and most widely loved holidays of the year," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Retailers know that when it comes to Halloween, new costume ideas for children, adults and pets and the latest in home and yard décor top people's shopping lists."

Jamie Gomez, manager of Spirit Halloween in Longview, said even once the most popular costumes have sold out, people continue to buy outfits.

With children's costumes running more than $25 and many adult outfits costing more than $100, the cost of celebrating Halloween can quickly add up.

Parties Plus in Longview offers 20,000 costumes for sale, as well as about 5,000 deluxe quality rental costumes, to capitalize on the central theme of the holiday.

Another Halloween expense is haunted houses and similar attractions.

Sue Gray, owner of Graystone Haunted Manor, a haunted park in Longview, said her attraction expects thousands of visitors during the Halloween season, although she lost several days of business because of weather.

"We would have been open 19 nights, and we originally hoped to have seen around 8,000 to 10,000 people," Gray said.

The park charges $16 per person for general admission.

However, the most consistent cost of the holiday comes from the millions of children who will trick or treat.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 41 million children between the ages of 5 and 14, peak age to trick or treat.

And in 2011, $113 million worth of pumpkins were harvested from the top six pumpkin producing states, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

"It assists certain companies and retailers who specialize in the holiday season," said Diana Northcutt, the retail development coordinator for the Longview Chamber of Commerce.

"The holiday seasons start with Halloween. This is their kick off for the rest of the year."



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