By Rylie Bernard and Joshua Pietzold
More than 40 party supply stores on Long Island are preparing for a busy Halloween with an expected $8.4 billion in holiday spending, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The average customer this Halloween is expected to spend an average of $82.93 compared to $74.34 last year, based on the NRF survey released at the beginning of October.
“In October sales go way up,” Melissa Stuhlmuller, a general manager at Party City, a store that sells party supplies, Halloween decorations and costumes, said, ”It’s disgustingly high compared to off-season months like April or May.”
At the store Stuhlmuller manages in Centereach, employment goes from around 11 employees that are on the schedule to over 50 when October arrives. This is common as business skyrockets, said Stuhlmuller.
Last year her store made over $200,000, and she expects it to be higher this year. Some Party City stores in high traffic areas made up to $1.5 million last year, she said.
Halloween decor is the major push at the beginning of the season, says Stuhlmuller, because as the month progresses it is less likely a customer will buy decorations. Decorations are shown near the front of the store to encourage people to purchase them.
“We watch what kind of merchandise we bring in, we watch our prices, and we give better customer service,” Judy LeDoux, of Party Hardy in Smithtown, said, on how her smaller business competes with bigger ones like Party City during this time of year.
According to the NRF survey, consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on costumes, $2.5 billion on candy, $2.4 billion on decorations and $390 million on greeting cards.
“Most of the money I spend for Halloween is on decorations, because I like to make my own costumes because store-bought costumes look cheesy,” Rebecca Molino, 22, a customer at Spirit Halloween in Lake Grove said “I usually try to cap it at $100.”
While party supply stores like Party City receive huge traffic and income increases, other Halloween stores also take advantage of the season. Spirit Halloween, a seasonal pop up store, has more than 20 locations on Long Island. Other pop-up stores, like Halloween USA and Halloween City, also open various locations on Long Island.
“From my point of view, retailers depend on holidays and particular days, like Halloween, to push advertisements and get people excited, because getting people in that holiday mood means consuming more goods” Hugo Benitez-Silva, Associate Professor and Director of Stony Brook University’s Economics Department, said.
But holiday spending isn’t entirely representative of the overall economy, Patrick Bolton, Professor of Business and Professor of Economics at Columbia University, says.
“It’s more of a blip when considering the entire GDP of the United States,” Bolton said.
Still, customers are enthusiastic for the holiday, which is a major push in the increased spending.
“It’s one of the best holidays because you get to dress up and act like a kid and have parties and bob for apples, carve pumpkins, all that great stuff,” Marianna Cantella, a shopper at Spirit Halloween, said.
Even though she has more work to do, Stuhlmuller still enjoys Halloween.
“It is a holiday that I love, it makes the days go by faster and I get to come to work all dressed up. It makes for a super fun work environment,” Stuhlmuller said.