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halloweenDespite economic gloom casting a spell on consumer confidence this year, America’s darkest holiday is looking bright for retailers.  According to industry research firm IBISWorld, Halloween sales are expected to reach a record-breaking $6 billion in 2009, up 4.2 percent from the $5.77 billion generated last year.

“Economic recovery appears to be around the corner and consumers are enthusiastically looking to escape their recessionary woes,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Even last year, when the outlook was much worse, the Halloween spirit remained unhindered as we saw total sales actually jump 5.1 percent from 2007.”

It appears an increasing number of people are buying treats this year, making candy the fastest growing holiday category. The average person is estimated to spend about $22.50 on Halloween treats in 2009.

Also fuelling this year’s record-breaking sales is the demand for holiday decorations.  With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, more adults are expected to join the fun.  In fact, 32 percent of people celebrating the holiday will either host or attend a party. For this reason, IBISWorld expects decorations to reach its highest level yet at $1.64 billion.

“Halloween-related festivities are a growing trend and this is driving sales of decorations and candy,” adds van Beeck.  “Dollar and variety stores stand to benefit from the 4.4 percent increase in decoration sales, as consumers look to purchase cheap and disposable thrills to make a memorable evening.”

Call it escapism or just good, old-fashioned fun, Americans of all ages show the desire to go all out when it comes to dressing-up.  Costumes are expected to generate the greatest amount of revenue this Halloween, but growth is slight (2.4 percent) as consumers will apply more frugal but creative approaches when shopping.

”Despite more people participating in festivities, money is still tight and consumers will look to cut corners when it comes costume purchases,” said van Beeck.  “Instead of buying a packaged costume, which can cost up to $60 on average, people will get more eclectic and opt for cheaper individual items.”

But given the lack of growth for the card category, not all cheaper items will fare well this year. While cards did well last year, as consumers chose to cut back on pricier categories, 2009 expenditures will revert back to traditional shopping habits.

“Although unemployment is still very high, the overall outlook is far rosier today than it was this time last year,” adds van Beeck.  “For this reason, IBISWorld expects the upward trend in Halloween expenditures to continue its course for 2009, which despite economic conditions will prove to be the best year yet.”

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average cost vacationWith the recession restricting budgets, families are trying to spend less while still enjoying a summer vacation. But what is the cost difference between getaways? Industry research firm IBISWorld investigated the average cost of roughing it outdoors versus a more luxurious alternative for a family of four vacationing:

Camping & Driving Your Own Car:  $158.33 per day

– Driving Your Car & Renting A Folding Travel Trailer:  $241.77 per day

– Rent A Type-C Motor Home:  $397.33 per day

– Drive Your Car & Stay At A Hotel:  $398.88 per day

– Air Travel, Car Rental & Hotel:  $575.11 per day

“Aside from wanting to save money, families are increasingly showing a desire to enjoy the simple pleasures of the great outdoors,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld. With camping being the number one outdoor vacation activity, and with over 14,000 government and commercial campground and RV parks, families have an excess of destinations to choose from.”

The two major segments in the industry, RV parks and campgrounds, are getting the most hype lately.  The research shows the RV holiday to average in at $3,576, making it the third cheapest type of vacation. Although RV sales have expectedly gone down this year (to 155,000 – from a peak of 390,500 units in 2006), the RV rental and lease market, on the other hand, has gone up. The $2.14 billion dollar sector has increased by 3.3 percent this year.

With a growing number of franchised resort-type campgrounds sprouting across the nation, roughing it in the wilderness does not necessarily entail getting down and dirty. Operators of camping chains have been upgrading their facilities and amenities, such as introducing wireless Internet access, health and fitness centers, playgrounds, and even restaurants and cafes.

“Camping appeals to families of all income levels,” said Van Horn. “Whether it’s boating, fishing, or soaking in some fresh air with your laptop at hand, modernized campgrounds can accommodate just about every need.”

Photo by satinez

Photo by satinez

Lower discretionary spending and consumer sentiment is expected to hit the bridal industry hard this year, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.  Expenditure on engagement rings, bridal gowns and wedding planners is expected to take another hit in 2009 – following a decline in expenditure in 2008 – as couples are expected to put off the “big day” and ride out the tough economic times.

“Fewer couples are expected to walk down the aisle this wedding season, as the recession is expected to exacerbate the already declining marriage rate,” explained Toon van Beeck, senior industry analyst with IBISWorld.

Couples who do wed during the year are expected to do so in a less-grandiose style, and are more likely to plan the event themselves. Wedding planners make up around 3 percent of revenue of the Personal Trainers, Wedding Planners & Other Services industry and are expected to generate 4.2 percent less revenue in 2009, down to $785 million.

Wedding dress purchases account for an estimated 10 percent of Lingerie, Swimwear, Uniform & Bridal Stores sales, but are expected to decline by 2.8 percent during 2009 – following a fall of 4.2 percent in 2008.  Spending on bridal gowns will dip to $973 million, as creative brides increasingly purchase non-traditional gowns for their big day.  Instead of frequenting bridal stores, they will be more likely to find their garment in a high-end Department Store or websites like Preowned Wedding Dress.

The average cost of a wedding dropped by more than 20 percent in 2008, and is expected to decline further by 8 percent this year.  While some of this will be due to consumers cutting costs where possible, prices are expected to average lower than previous years.
 
“While some couples are putting off their ceremony until the financial time is right, those who can afford it should consider getting married in 2009,” said van Beeck.  “They may get more bang for their wedding buck.”


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