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Cecile Corral

Halloween, help us!

September 28, 2007

Halloween. It’s always been a favorite holiday of mine. And now that I have young children, I enjoy it more than ever.

My five-year-old daughter has a noir sense of humor, and to her gory is not good but great.

Today is September 28 and my front yard looks haunted. There is very large glow-in-the-dark skeleton hanging on a palm tree beside an enormous web with a giant tarantula crawling on it, and on the next palm over there is an obnoxiousb witch that chants Santana’s "Evil Ways," baby. (Lest we forget my indoor decor, which includes, among other items, two electrically illuminated jack-o-laterns and a small coffin with a screaming mummy.)

My point, you are surely asking yourself by now?

Retailers — starting with Target and Big Lots, which I can collectively thank for 90% of my morbid motif — have finally figured it out: Throw in some spooky masks, front-door decorations, what have you, in your home mix and you’ll ring up the sales.

Last weekend I spent 20 minutes in my neighborhood Target’s Halloween section and walked out the door spending far more than I expected — mainly on these dreadful decorations.

On Bed Bath & Beyond’s website, the front page is bedecked with cutesy tchotchkes for Halloween decorating.

Further evidence: Pier 1 — not the first place that comes to mind when you think Halloween — reported last week in its 2Q earnings call that it already realized it didn’t buy enough Halloween product. And that was on September 20 — 41 days before dress-up day. It is the first time the chain added Halloween decor to its merchandise mix, and the attempt proved profitable.

A few days ago, the National Retail Federation reported the average American will spend $64.82 on Halloween stuff this year, roughly 10% more than last year. Sales of Halloween merchandise are expected to hit $5.07 billion.

Nearly 48% of consumers plan to decorate their homes in some fashion, spending an average of $26.59.

In fact, NRF predicts retailers will sell $1.39 billion in decorations. There’s nothing scary about that.