Halloween spooky spending gives merchants a treat
Adam Quirk, of Salt Lake City, is like many Utahns: This Halloween he's putting together his own costume.
Quirk, 33, plans to go out as Prince William from his 2011 wedding at Westminster Abbey in London. Quirk's girlfriend will wear a wedding dress, something similar to Kate Middleton's gown.
"This year Halloween is going to be pretty low-key with it being in the middle of the week but it's fun to dress up," said Quirk, who is spending more than the national average of $80 on Halloween, mostly for his costume.
Ryan Heugly, owner of Mask Costumes, with outlets in Salt Lake City and Taylorsville, said many of his customers are do-it-yourselfers, preferring to put together their own costumes. This year, local favorites are superheroes and zombies.
"For zombies, all you need is makeup and some special effects, such as blood gel, scar waxes and latex for wounds," he said. "Then, drag around some old clothes behind your car for a little bit, and your costume is ready."
Also popular is steampunk clothing that synthesizes modern styles with the Victorian era. (Think combat boots, brass goggles, a lace corset, fishnet stockings and a black flannel shirt.) Lady Gaga is mostly out, he added.
Gina Curtis, owner Farina's Costumes in Salt Lake City, said shoppers also are looking for masquerade costumes, reminiscent of the 17th and 18th centuries. Also popular are pirates, cowboys and the Avengers from the 2012 American film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team.
"People also are looking for pieces to reuse their costumes from last year," she said. "Sales were progressively getting better each year but so far, this year has been flat. People seem concerned about the economy."
Edwin Brown, 21, of Taylorsville, is assembling his own Halloween attire this year: Tevye in the 1971 film, "Fiddler on the Roof," a longtime family favorite. His grandmother misplaced the movie so Brown is working from memory.
Michele Deninno is going opulent for a party at her Salt Lake City home. She's rented a hand stitched Elizabethan gown, known for contrasting fabrics, intricate embroidery and applied trims, akin to wearing one's social status on one's sleeves.
Her friend Danielle Fath is keeping to the 16th-century theme for the party, but she's opting to be a wench.
"Perhaps I'll misbehave," she joked. "We'll see."
Despite the economy, Halloween has become the state's second-highest season for retail revenues, said David Davis president of the Utah Retail Merchants Association. Grocers also are seeing an uptick in sales.
"Along with spending on costumes, decorations and candy, people get hungry," he said. "Anytime you get people together for parties and other social gatherings, there's always food."
Last-minute saving tips
Costumes • Hold a costume swap or visit a thrift store. Or use what you have on hand. Turn a cardboard box into a lifesize laptop, TV or robot. With a few folds of a sheet you can become a shepherd, Roman royalty or the ever-popular ghost.
Decorations • Pumpkins are fairly inexpensive now. Turn your yard into a graveyard by cutting out cardboard headstones from old boxes, paint them gray, add your favorite saying, attach a stake to the back and place throughout your yard. Change the color of your porch light to create an eerie glow.
Treats • Hold off buying candy until the last minute when many retailers will put it on clearance. Kids will get enough treats so stick to less expensive bite-size candy.
Source: BMO Harris Bank