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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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Photo by memoossa

Photo by memoossa

With 55.8 million kids enrolled in public and private schools this fall, retailers can anticipate their usual brief stint of shoppers. But given lackluster consumer spending and a 9.4 percent unemployment rate, it is no surprise analysts at industry research firm IBISWorld expect back-to-school spending to decline by 3.4 percent – from the $20.42 billion generated in 2008.

“Parents will inevitably put more thought and less dollars into their back-to-school shopping strategies,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld. “In particular, dollar-variety stores can expect to see a greater wave of traffic since parents are doing everything they can to save an extra buck”.  In fact, IBISWorld approximates 21.3 percent of sales from the $47 billion discount-retailer industry to come from school and office supplies alone.

The fastest growing category, electronic school supplies, will see a slight decline of 1.8 percent, down to $5.12 billion. Parents on average will spend $91.69 per child on electronic equipment this year, a fairly significant leap from the $43.36 average observed in 2005. Items such as calculators and personal laptops are must-haves in today’s learning environment, and IBISWorld predicts that by 2016, this sector will become the number one back-to-school spending category – overtaking the core area of clothing, as the learning environment becomes more technologically focused.

The biggest decline this year comes from the clothes category, expected to plunge 5.4 percent. For each child enrolled in school this year, sporting the latest trends in clothes and accessories will cost parents $136.60 on average.

And for the 1.23 million kids that will be home-schooled this year, IBISWorld found that while parents may be saving on certain expenses like clothes and shoes, educating a child at home escalates costs in other areas. In particular, parents incur the hefty price of purchasing the latest teaching tools, textbooks, and learning equipment – typically covered by public and private schools.

“Back-to-school spending is a necessary and justifiable expenditure,’” said Van Horn. “Retailers have driven down overall prices in order to draw consumers, so price-conscious parents won’t need to significantly cutback because they will get a lot more for their dollar this year.”

Photo by night_fate

Photo by night_fate

Something old, new, borrowed and blue – that is the wedding tradition – but this season brides may struggle to get something new.  According to industry research firm IBISWorld, spending on rented bridal gowns is expected to grow 7.5 percent to $43 million – up from $40 million in 2008. 

With brides renting dresses, sales of new wedding gowns are expected to decrease 2.8 percent this year, reaching just $973 million.  While the decline is not as steep as the 4.2 percent drop experienced in 2008, the industry has seen declines since 2001.  Brides who do purchase a dress will more likely buy their garments in high-end department stores, formal clothing stores, or online – like PreOwnedWedddingDress.com – opposed to a bridal store.

The one thing couples will not be renting this year is wedding planners. Compared to 2008, the amount spent on wedding planners is expected to drop 4.2 percent to $785 million.  In fact, the average cost of a wedding is expected to drop eight percent in 2009 to just $20,000 – in 2007 the average was $30,000.

“The recession is expected to exacerbate the already declining marriage rate, as couples put off the ‘big day’ until the time is right financially,” explained Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Spending will undoubtedly be impacted by such postponements.”

Photo by petr0

Photo by petr0

Despite the economic downturn and retail sales plummeting, this Father ’s Day it looks like dads are going from handyman to dandyman, as sales of pampering services and related products are expected to increase 35.7 percent, according to industry research firm IBISWorld

Although pampering services only accounts for a small portion of total Father’s Day spending on the nation’s 66.3 million dads as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, pampering is emerging as this holiday’s fastest growing gift category with consumers expected to spend $190 million compared to $140 million in 2008.

“Traditional Father’s Day gifts, such as tools and electronics are declining this year while spa services, personal care products, and greeting cards are increasing,” explained Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “It seems that ‘New Age’ dads are this year’s fad.”   Mr. van Beeck added, “According the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 66.3 million fathers in the nation today which demonstrates the impact spending on Father’s Day has on the U.S. economy.”

memorial spending

This Memorial Day it’s all about savings, as consumers look to cut costs while still maintaining a fun three-day weekend.  Fortunately savvy shoppers, who purchase store brands over brand-name products, stand to save 16.3 percent on their total holiday grocery bill, according to IBISWorld research to the left.

“In essence, store brands turn the clock back two to three years,” said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld. “Without inflation, store-brand groceries this Memorial Day weekend are comparable in price to brand-name groceries during the 2007 holiday.”  

 Based on the average holiday shopping cart above, the 16.3 percent savings puts about $10 back into consumers’ pockets.  That means with approximately 117,641,000 households in the U.S., the nation could save about $1.18 billion if everyone celebrated Memorial Day in the same fashion and went the store-brand route as opposed to the brand name route.


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