Will Superstorm Sandy wash out Halloween?

Trick-or-treating and parties may be ruined, but many retailers already took their cut.

By Jason Notte Oct 30, 2012 5:11PM

Image: Halloween (Digital Vision Ltd/SuperStock)Yes, New York City's East Village is inundated, millions are without power and the East Coast is dealing with issues far more grave than stock market and store closures, but what are all the cool kids talking about? Halloween.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set the tone on Monday night as Jersey Shore towns were getting slammed with massive swells of seawater and northern cities were dealing with flooding, downed trees, power outages and imposed curfews. His calming words to the masses via Twitter: "If conditions are not safe on Wednesday for Trick or Treating, I will sign an Executive Order rescheduling #Halloween."


So there you have it. If New Jersey's chief executive, who declared a state of emergency just days earlier, thinks Halloween trick-or-treating and candy and costume spending are big storm-related issues, it must be so. Even if it's only his daughter Bridget who's actually concerned, Christie's statement doesn't make the potential economic impact on Target (TGT), Wal-Mart (WMT), Amazon (AMZN) and other retail outlets serving his state any less frightening.


But yes, Bridget, there is a Halloween. It does not exist as certainly as love and generosity and devotion in the 18 or so states affected by Sandy, but because the National Retail Federation and its retail partners have willed it into being. The organization predicted Halloween spending would reach $8 billion, with Americans spending an average of $80 on candy, costumes and decorations. Roughly 70% of those polled by the NRF said they planned to participate in Halloween events this year, but those events could be curtailed a bit by hurricane cleanup.


No trick or treating for little kids? No parties flowing with pumpkin ale for their parents at local bars and pubs? It won't matter much to big retailers. NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis told Ad Age those super-sized shops already got their goodies this holiday season.


"Even with last-minute shoppers, the majority of shoppers likely shopped this weekend before the storm was around," Grannis said. "It will likely have an impact on small retailers who are specifically in the business of Halloween... and bars and restaurants who were planning Halloween events. If they don't have locations across the country, they'll likely feel the pinch. For large retailers and chain stores, this is not going to impact their bottom line."


That may give retailers some welcome relief, but Halloween doesn't do as much for their bottom line as just about every other holiday on the calendar. The $8 billion the NRF's predicting still puts Halloween dead last on market research firm IBISWorld's holiday retail list. It's not only a fraction of the $14 billion IBISWorld says is spent on Easter, but less than half of the nearly $18 million stores rake in on Valentine's Day. As for the winter holidays, forget it. That $8 billion may be a couple days' worth of spending in a $135 billion holiday season.


While putting trick-or-treat candy on the porch in a neighborhood full of downed power lines or missing a chance to show off an election year candidate costume at the local pub are scary propositions, at least the folks who sold all those chocolates, candy corns and Obama and Romney masks have nothing to fear.


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32Comments
Oct 31, 2012 12:24PM
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Of any holiday to wash out, Halloween would be the one!

Oct 31, 2012 12:10PM
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hallo, Melena..........BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!
Oct 31, 2012 11:42AM
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I have Halloween every day around me ( we stupid idiots who work UNDERCOVER  for US Gov. and CIA)…???

Oct 31, 2012 11:23AM
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it should we would just be adding insult to injury by celebrating this evil day
Oct 31, 2012 11:11AM
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Anyone else think that devil looks like Jerry Seinfeld?
Oct 31, 2012 11:00AM
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This Article is about Halloween....It is about CHILDREN having fun...It is about young people having fun....It is about old people(like ourselves) giving away candy, and having FUN...

 

It is something to take your mind off all the problems, so that you can see the forrest and the sunshine for the trees.....If all you got to do, is biotch....GO AWAY..

 

Us little kids and children want to have some fun...We need to, for a change.

Oct 31, 2012 10:53AM
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Why would anyone think they can postpone Halloween that would be like postponing Christmas Eve - Dec. 25th - Someone needs to remind people exactly what Halloween is - THE EVE OF ALL SAINTS DAY - November 1st. - A religous observation of all saints.  So are we going to postpone that too!!  I know that Halloween has been bastardized by most people but it really was a day that was observed by most christians - I understand that the little ones will be sadly disappointed by not being able to celebrate as usual - However, now would be a good time for them to remember exactly what Halloween really is all about.    
Oct 31, 2012 8:33AM
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The writer definitely has too much time on his hands - researching stats that affect a very small portion of the population.  Leave the decision of whether the community should or should not celebrate to them based on their circumstances.  As to Halloween business if there is a want there will be someone out there to capitalize on it.  If you don't like the commericialization, then your best defense is not to buy the product - if enough do so, the business will dry up and Halloween will return to what it once was - communities getting together to share with one another.  
Oct 31, 2012 8:23AM
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You know, when a child goes through something this scary and devestating, sometimes it's good for them to have something fun and normal for them to look forward to.  Did it ever occur to anyone that the choice to make sure Halloween trick or treat still happened might be for the benefit of the children and not for the retailers?  Something that might sound trivial to an adult could make all the difference to a child and help take their minds off of all that has happened. 
Oct 31, 2012 12:05AM
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the storm has affected ove 50 million people and the entire eastern coast and there worried about $$$ and how much banks will lose.. oh quit your whining money isnt everything in the world
Oct 30, 2012 11:06PM
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This is a tasteless article and title, Jason. Shame on you - why come up with a story like this, questioning how much materialism is on people's minds at such an unfortunate time for that region? Good lord.
Oct 30, 2012 10:26PM
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I'm shocked by all the ignorance uttered amongst the sentences throughout these comments.  Yes the east coast is in a chaotic state but there is a lesson to be learned everyday with every postive moment and even more so with every negative moment such as this superstorm.  This article is not about Halloween but a mere attempt to shift your focus back onto family especially those little ones that live for candy filled days.  It's how this situation will be handled that will echo in time with your child's memory.  Yes it's easier said than done but nonetheless man has triumphed every time after every catastrophic event.  Here we have yet another catastrophre and another lesson to be learned.  Pave the way to the future with intelligence and resourcefulness not ignorance and stupidity.  GODSPEED EASTCOAST.

Oct 30, 2012 10:09PM
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48 people DEAD, and counting. Entire neighborhoods wiped out. 15 MILLION people without power. Business destroyed, lives destroyed, and disrupted, estimated 20 BILLION to repair the damage. And some IDIOT IS WORRIED ABOUT HALLOWEEN??????????????? HOW TOTALLY INSENSITIVE, AND FOOLISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oct 30, 2012 9:56PM
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Holloween?    Sandy was scariest enough.......like i have the candy ready when no power is available
Oct 30, 2012 8:56PM
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no, just because Santa Clause does not visit your house...does that stop Christmas?

no.....the holidays.....or even Holloween is in your heart.

Oct 30, 2012 8:51PM
Oct 30, 2012 8:51PM
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Of course Christie is going to reschedule Halloween; He doesnt give a crab about the children, the fat  wants all the candy for himself!
Oct 30, 2012 8:43PM
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What Superstorn? It was a Cat 1 hurricane?

Oct 30, 2012 8:35PM
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May be a huge Halloween in Manhattan.  Four days in the dark.  Trick or treates may be out all hours getting what the poor people have left.  I think they need the National Guard to come in for crowd control.  For once, forget policing the world and help these people in the dark preserve whatever they have.  If anything is lost, please VOTE CONGRESS AND ALL INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE.
Oct 30, 2012 8:09PM
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Who the "f" cares?  The balance of the country is still here!
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