5 reasons to delay Halloween shopping
Halloween is now part of a 12-week year-end holiday shopping marathon.
Halloween can be a bag of financial tricks. Total spending for Halloween this year is expected to hit $5.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry association. U.S. shoppers on average will spend $66 on costumes, candy and decorations, according to NRF's 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. That's up from $56.31 in 2009.
The average $66 Halloween shopping bag will be filled with costumes ($23.37), candy ($20.29), decorations ($18.66), and greeting cards (nearly $4), the survey showed. (See also "28 ways to have cheaper Halloween fun.")
"In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes," said NRF president Matthew Shay. "This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday."
But you don't have to buy into the hype. Here are five reasons why you should postpone your Halloween celebrations:
Post-holiday discounts: Although some merchants promote pre-holiday discounts, you can save more money by shopping after Oct. 31. Post-holiday discounts typically range from 50% to 75% off full prices, with savings jumping to 90% by mid-November. Markdowns apply to costumes, candy, decorations and miscellaneous products. One year, for example, we found costumes priced at $5 and under, down from $20, and boxes of Halloween-themed facial tissues for 50 cents a box.
Toxic chemicals: Seasonal cosmetics -- face paints, lipsticks and powders -- can contain lead and potentially harmful chemicals and fragrances, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit eco-friendly and public-safety group. Fragrances found in many cosmetics "may contain allergens or hormone-disrupting chemicals," EWG reports.
Likewise, some popular lipstick brands contain lead. "Face paints can contain lead, which can impair brain development at extremely low doses, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium, which can cause skin sensitization and contact dermatitis," says EWG. Before stocking up and applying Halloween makeup, spend time researching the safety of cosmetics and personal-care products. EWG operates a database, ranking cosmetics for safety.
Recycling: Unusual merchandise, including costumes and decorations, can be found at thrift stores, online auctions and consignment stores. The best deals, however, may be available after Oct. 31.
Dental plan: Cavities and dental costs are on the rise, according to national surveys. Over the past decade, the number of cavities reported in children ages 2 to 5 years has risen by 15%, according to a 2007 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And from 2009 through 2019, annual dental expenditures are expected to jump to $161 billion, a 58% increase, according to a recent report from the Pew Center.
Preserve your dental health (and potentially reduce health care costs) by avoiding candy on Halloween. If that's not possible, procrastination has perks: If you purchase candy after the holiday, the prices will be cheaper and the limited selection will be less tempting. (Have too much stocked up? Check out 10 things you can do with leftover candy.)
Your sanity: Halloween shopping has merged into the annual year-end shopping marathon that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and assorted December holidays. It's a 12-week ritual of cash registers, long lines and spending. Postpone the holiday crush, preserve your sanity and conserve cash by delaying your Halloween shopping.
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
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A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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