October 28, 2019

"I wouldn’t put it 'the world is falling apart' phase yet. But the trend that we see is really concerning, and it’s consistent among all demographic groups."

Said an expert on consumer sentiment, quoted at The Hill in an article about how people aren't spending so much money on Halloween anymore. Halloween is not a necessity, so willingness to spend on it is some indication of how wealthy people feel and also how wealthy they want to look: "Halloween is the expenditure-visibility holiday."

But, come on, it's just Halloween. Halloween had become stupidly important to adults in recent years.  I'm hoping the change isn't about consumer confidence generally but cultural change. Maybe the new adults — Generation Z — will look on Halloween as something that only an embarrassingly old adult would get excited about. When I was a young adult, Halloween was a children's holiday, but then adults younger than I am got enmeshed in Halloweenery. Now those adults are old and there are younger adults. Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back. The things your parents did tend to look out-of-date and awkward, so you may find your way back to your grandparents' attitude.

Imagine being in your 20s now and having grown up with a mother who dressed up as "sexy [whatever]" every Halloween. You might think I'll get some candy in case any kids come around. That would be what your grandparents probably did.

82 comments:

The Bergall said...

Geez, these folks need to lighten up......

Carol said...

Stupidly important is right! One perk of being retired is not having some coworker hassling you into dressing for the occasion...gah...

A friend made a mighty fine judge's wig for me tho..

Seeing Red said...

Grade Schools are downplaying Halloween. No more parties.

How much is imposition from the top?

Halloween might become a right of passage.

Plus, all the restrictions on costumes. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t!

Jim Gust said...

I won't miss Halloween. I never understood the holiday anyway. Looking back, I'm really mystified by how much support there was for celebrating Halloween in grade school.

All Souls Day is the important holiday.

MadisonMan said...

We're not giving out candy this year. The forecast looks spectacularly bad for outside activities anyway.

BarrySanders20 said...

Lotsa overlap on a Venn diagram of adults who love dressing up for Halloween and adults who get overly excited about their own birthdays.

rhhardin said...

In 2001 nobody came to the door so I wound up with 80 planter's peanut butter blocks.

So I stopped the Halloween stuff; and today only a few houses have their porch lights on, for the few tots in the neighborhood.

rcocean said...

Its not just Halloween. Its also giving each other Presents at Christmas, which used to be about Little kids getting presents, and has now morphed into adults giving them too.

Other examples: obsessing over spectator sports, collecting sport star signatures and baseball cards, or reading comic books. All of which are now adult hobbies. Being too interested in the personal doings of some Baseball star was looked upon as childish by most of adults I knew growing up, but now we full time Sports Soap Opera everywhere. And don't get me started on 65 y/o Star Trek/Star Wars fans!

tim maguire said...

For some reason, TV shows portray adults going over the top with Halloween costumes and decorations, especially in the workplace. I don't know why, but it doesn't surprise me that it is bleeding into real life.

samanthasmom said...

Halloween isn't fun for the people giving out the treats anymore. Now we have to keep track of which color pumpkin means what. We can't encourage the kids to have polite conversations with us. We can't freely choose what kind of treats to give out without being shamed. We're all suspected of being child molesters and serial killers. It's like being told we have to host a party, but we don't get to pick the guests, choose the food, or plan the entertainment. We just have to pick up the tab. From the conversations I've had with my neighbors, I'm guessing this is the last year we'll "host" trick or treating. It's an HOA, and I think they may vote to end it at the first meeting for next year in January.

Ralph L said...

Fun Size is smaller than it used to be, too.

In our 20's, my sister and I dressed up to be extras in a Halloween party scene for "St Elmo's Fire" in Georgetown under the raised highway along the Potomac, but it rained, so they couldn't film. They gave us free passes to several bars with parties.

I got a bag of 3 Musketeers just this morning. I've already eaten 5, so I'm at minus 2 musketeers already, and the new neighbors have kids.

henry said...

since all costumes are triggers for some group or another, why deal with Halloween? Just another bit of fun cultural appropriation stomped on by justice warriors. Better to smoke (legal) dope and complain about oil companies.

Openidname said...

They're rooting for the economy to crash because that will hurt Trump and help Democrats. Imagine hating Trump so much that you want the economy to crash!

Ken B said...

A “Whatever”? Dripping blood? Not sexy!

Infinite Monkeys said...

For a time, Halloween was the only real opportunity that adults had to dress up in costume. There was a disturbing lack of costume balls, something old movies had led me to believe was a common occurrence. But now there are cons, all over and throughout the year, and other cosplay opportunities, so no one has to wait for Halloween to have fun wearing a costume.

My son went to two different Halloween costume parties this past weekend. He made his costume, mostly out of things that are not sold as "Halloween costumes". If they are tracking Halloween spending based on costume purchases, there may just be a trend to create something more original instead of a trend away from Halloween spending. I know someone who works at a local liquor mega-store and was told that they were unusually busy selling party quantities of alcohol lately. This makes me think that there's still parties and spending going on, at least where I live.

Halloween for children is changing too. Less door-to-door and more parties. Lower candy sales may reflect that. People are making their own (possibly healthier) snacks for parties instead of handing out junk to trick or treaters. (Plus the weather hasn't been great lately. Why stock up on candy if it might be too nasty out for little kids to go trick or treating?)

This is just my personal experience with Halloween. I don't want to dash any hopes the anti-Trumpers have of a recession. Good luck to them, I hope the full force of it hits them as hard as possible.

Paul said...

We, my wife and I, do NOT like the commercialization of Halloween. It is ridiculous.

Thus our grandchildren dress up in homemade stuff and do just a bit of trick-or-treating around the block. It's the adults here that jazz up their front lawns with stuff.

I'd rather spend it on Thanksgiving or Christmas as they are more about things that happen than this ghost/vampire stuff.

stevew said...

This is a weird story. I'm 62 and don't remember any of my circle of friends "getting into" Halloween other than to facilitate an experience for their kids. Over the years there were a couple, maybe a few, costume parties around Halloween, but once everyone had kids we were all occupied with them and their experience.

My kids have kids now and do Halloween things like dressing them up, or encouraging them to do so.

"Concerning" really does seem like silly hyperbole or fishing for something bad.

traditionalguy said...

Maybe the Trump economic boom has everybody working and financially stable enough to re-direct their money into big purchases and Cruises as their social status buys.This replaces frittering money away on one day Halloween dress up, which used to be all they could afford.

Masscon said...

Completely agree with your analysis, it is exactly my experience of the culture and we are of a similar age...you sound like a better expert than the expert quoted in The Hill.

Nonapod said...

When I was a young adult, Halloween was a children's holiday, but then adults younger than I am got enmeshed in Halloweenery. Now those adults are old and there are younger adults. Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back. The things your parents did tend to look out-of-date and awkward, so you may find your way back to your grandparents' attitude.

Yeah, I agree my generation (X) seems to have turned Halloween from a kids holiday to primarily adult one... and Millennials have continued that trend. It's too soon to tell how Gen Z really feels about Halloween, but I'm skeptical that Halloween will return to being primarily a kids holiday. We seem to be becoming more childish or child-like as a culture, not less.

Adolescent behavior was once the domain of the adolescent. Now people behave like teenagers deep into their middle age and even beyond. Affluence is a double edge sword. When concerns like food and shelter and basic comforts aren't at the top of our minds, it seems like we tend to invent new concerns.

rightguy said...

" Halloween had become stupidly important to adults in recent years." You can say that again.

bwebster said...

The “falling apart” claim is nonsense. Halloween sales were at $6.8 billion in 2015 - just 4 years ago. Current spending is estimated to be $8.8 billion, which is down slightly from the last two years but still 27% higher than 2015. This is classic hype/anti hype media click-chasing.

rehajm said...

Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index:

http://www.sca.isr.umich.edu/

Sentiment was insignificantly below the mid month level, with the small loss spread over most components of the Index. The overall level of consumer confidence has remained quite favorable and largely unchanged during the past few years.

Of note from the article at The Hill:

...an analyst at Morning Consult, which recently launched a daily consumer sentiment index that tracks how consumers feel about the current economy and their expectations of where the economy is headed.

So an untested... er, ‘recently launched’ sentiment index from ‘experts’ concludes negative news...for Trump’s re-election prospects ...just in time for the election cycle. Didn’t we see this same phenomenon in the last cycle? Newly branded experts- pollsters, last time...with their back tested prediction models, showed up just in time to tell us Hillary had a 99 percent chance of winning.

I call BS...

bbkingfish said...

No doubt, Halloween fascination among adults is weird, maybe even disconcerting. But marketers have managed to make it the symbolic kickoff of the holiday buying season, so October sales are viewed closely by retailers, advertisers, and manufacturers.

Ralph L said...

The DailyMail reported that Princess William bought costumes for her future-monarch offspring at the Sainsbury's in Cambridge and went through the self-checkout! What a woman!

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

It's just a bunch of junk. Made in china junk. Even smell that stuff? It smells toxic.
We already have a boat loads of it, in the basement. right? How much more do we need?

Home Depot sells massive quantities of Halloween junk. It's one night. How do you handle storing all that junk for a year?

How much oozing bright colored funk pollution was generated downstream in China, so that Americans can revel in all the glorious off-gassing cheap Halloween junk? I think it's good that people saying NO to more of that. Americans are way too materialistic and silly.

I like the idea of home-made decorations. When I was a kid, if you wanted something cool for Halloween - you created it yourself. or your mom or uncle sewed up a costume and you glued some straw and candy corn to a home-made mask.

Now it's all toxic smelling ultra-bad from China.

rehajm said...

Fun Size is smaller than it used to be, too.

Experts concluded we’re now more easily amused.

Brian said...

Wife & I went to a charity Halloween party last week. Attendees were mostly late 20s to early 40s professionals. Among the younger people, by far the most popular costume was the "Character from a Semi-Obscure TV Show" (Ms. Maisel, etc) assembled from ordinary clothing with minimal characteristic accessories. Very easy and cheap to do, among a crowd that not only has lots of disposable income but was present at this charity shindig for the express purpose of disposing of it. I interpreted it as being less about economizing and more about making in-jokes with like-minded fans of boutique media offerings.

Jersey Fled said...

When I was a kid we used to forage for hours and maybe cover an area 1/2 mile in diameter. We would fill our treet bags (pillow cases) two or three times. It was all about the candy.

Now it seems like we get fewer kids each year. I just bought a box of 30 candy bars (full size) and I expect to have some left over.

On the other hand, my blue collar employees seem to view Halloween as an excuse to party and get drunk.

Howard said...

Tons of homes and towns have Halloween displays throughout the Maritime and Atlantic Provenses and New England.

tim maguire said...

rhhardin said...
In 2001 nobody came to the door so I wound up with 80 planter's peanut butter blocks.


Well, Jesus! No wonder nobody comes to your door!

On a typical Halloween night, we give out all of our candy, no matter how much we buy (as in, 150-200 pieces). When we run out, we bring in the pumpkin and turn out the lights. We still get some people at the door even after this.

Most years, when my daughter comes home from trick or treating, we go through her candy and give away what she doesn't want.

This year we bought 250 pieces of candy. We've eaten about 10. 240 should last at least until 8:30, when we are justified in no longer answering the door.

tcrosse said...

IIRC back in the 1970's gays went for Halloween in a big way, as if they needed an excuse to dress up and act wild. In Madison the place to be was the Cardinal Bar for the big Halloween dance party. It caught on with the in-crowd, and the rest is history.

Jeff Weimer said...

We got into Halloween with decorations and such when the kids were young and into it. Now that they're grown out of it, we don't do more than hand out candy anymore.

Ann Althouse said...

"The DailyMail reported that Princess William bought costumes for her future-monarch offspring at the Sainsbury's in Cambridge..."

Wow! I won't do self-checkout.

Tim Wolter said...

I should think candy sales as a way to track the economy are not all that relevant. But if there is a decline there it may reflect the relative "Baby Bust" of the post 2008 Recession. There are simply fewer kids in that sucrose harvesting 5 - 10 year old demographic. And yes, if you do have kids...or more likely one kid these days, you are probably more worried about everything. Tampered candy bars, Type II diabetes, fat shaming, Jason in a Hockey mask.

As to adults doing less costume stuff I say good. Be adults.

We actually are on a trick or treat main drag and get plenty of the little sugar ants turning up. My wife insists on handing out pencils along with candy. The former are surprisingly popular.

TW

rcocean said...

"People are making their own (possibly healthier) snacks for parties instead of handing out junk to trick or treaters."

Why not give them some Brussel Sprouts? Good grief. Kids don't want "healthier snacks" on Halloween.

rcocean said...

Every Halloween where I live, several mostly empty stores turn into "Halloween Stores" selling Halloween junk. The profit margins must he high, since they open in Mid-Sept and close out around Veterans day.

Darrell said...

When girls and women started wearing pants, Halloween was the only time you could see long-legged women wearing black stockings. With cat ears.

rhhardin said...

Armstrong and Getty recommend giving out little cups of creamed corn.

Kay said...

If you paid attention children’s media of the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll notice a strong message that being a kid was awesome and fun, and being an adult was something dull and boring. I think a lot of people growing up then internalized this message, and that’s why they hold on to so much of their youth.

Unknown said...

And don't get me started on 65 y/o Star Trek/Star Wars fans!

At least I don't get excited about people I don't know playing sports on tv..

William said...

I wonder if the Hanover little girls dress up as princesses? Not much fantasy in those Frozen costumes for them. They could go as a zombie Diane but that would probably be in poor taste.....As I get older, I find less reasons to celebrate a holiday whose subtext is death.

Unknown said...

Now Bradbury could get excited about Halloween, and make it work..

Amy Welborn said...

"Lotsa overlap on a Venn diagram of adults who love dressing up for Halloween and adults who get overly excited about their own birthdays."

...and get married at Disney World...

Fernandistein said...

Handy chart = no concerns.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

You can have a good time on Halloween without all the commercial crap from China.

MountainMan said...

My wife and I no longer participate. Used to be fun when our children and all the neighbors’ children were little, but everyone’s kids are gone and most of us have grandkids and most of them don’t live here. For about the past 10 years our little neighborhood has been overrun with large groups of kids brought in by pickups and minivans and dumped out by their parents. We have no idea who any of them are. In the past few years older teenagers have started showing up. We hate it. We will do again Thurs night what we have done for the past several years: turn off all the lights, drive over to another town nearby to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, and then go to a movie and not get home until 10:00 or later.

traditionalguy said...

OK, if the Devil has to have one day a year when we celebrate his Kingdom,that's fine. Choices, choices. But don't expect Kanye West to participate. He's gone hard core.

reader said...

My sister and I had a lot of fun trick-or-treating when we were young. It was one of the few activities my dad participated in. He walked with us while my mom handed out candy. We quit walking when we hit twelve. According to mom Halloween was for young kids and twelve was too old. Instead she bought us some See’s candy.

My sister and I did go through the sexy/slutty Halloween costume stage in our late teens and early twenties. My boyfriend threw parties at his house. I was typically a conservative dresser and it was liberating to break out of that mold once a year.

I didn’t force my son to stop trick-or-treating at twelve but I told him if he quit I would buy him a box of See’s candy. He took me up on the offer.

Birkel said...

I'd bet the parties former Congresswoman Hill attended (and will attend) for Halloween we're planned for adults.

Photographs prove as much.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

El Día de los Muertos is being pushed/gaining popularity

yeah, it is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween, though the two holidays do share some traditions, including costumes and blah blah blah...

is there a "Halloween Barbie"? who knows, but--
There's a Día de los Muertos Barbie!

wholelottasplainin' said...

In my neighborhood Halloween "trick or treat" visits have become very uncommon. One reason is that a certain street about a quarter-mile from us puts on a doozy of a show, with skeletons bedecked in in all sorts finery posing in funny positions and situations in front of most houses.

Wife and I went up that street Saturday, to check it out in advance of the holiday. We asked a resident about last year's attendance.

"Thousands", he said. "At thirty bags of candy, we ran out."

gerry said...

MountanMan: stay at home and give out toothbrushes.

Beasts of England said...

My birthday is in the Halloween timeframe (hmm) and I always had that for a birthday theme. Tons o’ fun! Now it’s just twenty-something hot chicks seeing who can drink the most and dress the sluttiest. Hope that didn’t sound like a complaint... 👻

Birches said...

Maybe people realized it's dumb to spend money on crap.

Bill Peschel said...

"Wow! I won't do self-checkout."

My wife makes it a point to never do self-checkout. Sends a signal to corporate (a tiny one) to keep hiring humans.

Yesterday, the local CVS added self-checkout, dam it!

Leland said...

I wonder if the move away from Halloween is part of the new puritanism permeating our culture, such as the don't drink alcohol (but get high) and don't smoke (unless it is a joint) and various sexual rules getting more complex day after day. Lots of the costume bashing seems to be along these lines. I'm tired of this silliness. That said, I wouldn't mind the real holiday All Hallows/Saints Day, or if you prefer Dia de los Meurtos, becoming the thing celebrated. It's about remembering the lives of those that came before us and honoring them. Instead, it was turned into a holiday about horror and gluttony. Akas, we will still open the door kindly and greet the neighborhood children.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

did they mean this?

Michigan auto shop's display of Trump with Obama's head on rope draws outrage
Angie Jackson, Detroit Free PressPublished 6:00 a.m. ET Oct. 28, 2019

daskol said...

If observance of Halloween is declining in the US, it seems that our American disease--loving children's holidays too much?--has caught on in the UK. There are many neighborhoods now where trick-or-treating takes place, which didn't exist altogether 10 or 15 years ago except among American expats. Halloween is perfect for kids up to college age, and then it starts looking silly. A more sinister reason for the decline of Halloween is the inherently provocative and appropriative aspects of costumes.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"On a typical Halloween night, we give out all of our candy, no matter how much we buy (as in, 150-200 pieces). When we run out, we bring in the pumpkin and turn out the lights. We still get some people at the door even after this."

Trick-or-treating has increasingly become concentrated in upscale neighborhoods. Which is racist and classist if you like, but speaks volumes about some longstanding stereotypes.

Ralph L said...

My wife insists on handing out pencils along with candy. The former are surprisingly popular.

Sharpened or not, they're used as weapons on the way home.

Is it woke to hand out pencils of color, and is #2 verbotten now?

Freeman Hunt said...

There was a brief fad of people going over the top with Halloween decorations. It seems to be ending this year. Even my kids have noticed the lack of decorations around town. (I'm not into Halloween decorating, but I've given the kids money to decorate outside as they see fit subject to my veto. Halloween has my least favorite decorations. "Decorations?")

Jeff said...

Wow, what a miserable lot some of you are. When I was a child, I went trick-or-treating every year and got tons of candy. My mom would take it all and ration it back out to us until it ran out in early spring. Then we didn't have much candy until Halloween rolled around again. I feel like handing out gobs of good candy (the candy bars, none of this candy corn, Peeps, and Smarties shit) is just paying back the Universe for what I got as a kid.

Beside, out of the thirty or so groups of kids who come to my door, I can expect to see at least 20 really cute little ones. It's heartwarming to see their eyes light up when I hold out my big bowl of candy bars and tell them to just grab a handful. It's actually kind of fun to watch some of them try to get as much into their handful as they can.

Freeman Hunt said...

Wow! I won't do self-checkout.

Me neither. Self-checkout is bullshit.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back. The things your parents did tend to look out-of-date and awkward

We are rapidly reaching the point were Tiffany will be an old ladies name.

Milwaukie guy said...

I went to costume parties in my 20's, back in the 70s.

As said above, it's the decline of the costume ball. It's been part of Western culture since the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. And, yes, there was often whiskey and sexy.

Big Mike said...

Golly, some people are just so damned desperate to find bad economic news in the era of Donald Trump.

daskol said...

Italian-Americans go all out decorating for the holidays, which is happily still the case even in the gentrified parts of Brooklyn where enough Italian-Americans or their spirit remains that we get garish and ridiculous Halloween and Christmas scenes.

reader said...

When I was a tween my dad took my sister, her bf, my bf, and me to a haunted house. After we came out his car had a flat tire. I’m pretty sure someone drove a nail into it. My dad made the four of us put the spare on and then took us to the A&W drive up for dinner.

Halloween was the time of year my dad stepped up.


Ralph L said...

Even my kids have noticed the lack of decorations around town

We've got much more than usual here. Two of my neighbors even have strings of red lights, something I don't remember seeing anywhere before.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

oh, c'mon, man! On Halloween you can be a Democrat for one night!!!

Dress up as something you're not, scare people, and get free shit!!

BUMBLE BEE said...

My Birthday is Halloween. Arguably the greatest day of the year to have a birthday. As a kid, I got to dress up in something cool and run door to door screaming my head off and gettin free candy! Kids from the poorer neighborhoods crowded the porches with us and we all were crazy happy shouting Trick or Treat at the top of our voices. No costume competitions. Went to a "safe" organized "KIDDIES" party once. Whatta drag that was. Late for the door.
Times were tough, but Halloween was great. Apples, candy bars and an old time favorite popcorn balls with embedded Jujyfruits it was all good. Get it while you can.

Kyjo said...

I distinctly recall a Mexican family in my childhood neighborhood in California giving out candy to other Mexicans but refusing to open the door to us white kids. That was the end of Halloween for me, but I had friends who were still trick-or-treating every year in high school. Then Halloween became absurdly popular with adults, and, honestly, I don’t think it’s really calmed down much at all.

On the subject of self-checkout, sometimes it’s that or stand in line behind 20 other people for one clerk. In that scenario, I will go to the self-checkout every time. My local Safeway only ever has 1 or 2 clerks available, and no self-checkout, so inevitably one must wait in a ridiculous line.

ken in tx said...

I just read through the comments and noticed that no one mentioned that Halloween is a major gay holiday. In places like New Orleans and Atlanta, Halloween is a super gay event. The best parties and decorations are hosted by gays. They go all out. I went to one in Atlanta that featured animatronic monsters, free booze, and great food. BTW, you didn't have to be gay to get in.

reader said...

I like self checkout. I do wish that people who don’t go to the grocery store regularly or that don’t have a basic understanding of the different type of vegetables would refrain from using it.

Hmmm. Is that a jumbo onion? A sweet onion? Organic? I don’t know. My wife/mom/dad told me to grab an onion, so I did. Chinese parsley? No! I wanted cilantro.

h said...

I saw a photo recently (This Week in Pictures from Powerline) that showed a Goth Girl carrying a sign "Goths for Trump" under the caption: "When you are going through your rebellious phase, but your parents are liberal hippies."

I've noticed that everyone accepts the view that the young are naturally and inevitably liberals, and that (for example) increasing voter participation among college students will help Democrats. But what if it's not a linear trend, but a cycle? What if young people become more like their grandparents (against whom the parents rebelled)?

D 2 said...

Some upthread have already commented the (likely) accuracy that it has nothing to do with year-to-year trends by youngsters or oldsters, but that it is simply a more immediate data point that can be produced to suggest there is a portent of dark economic clouds.

Don't believe the click bait which wants to foster an economic downturn (or upturn - all those recovery summers promoted in the early 2010s...) for self serving political reasons.

Reality is generally associated with people working hard in the private sector to provide value. Or, as one of my pithy family members might say: Someone has to chop down a tree, or dig some rock, or pick those berries. The rest is all churning.

n.n said...

Evolution or unqualified progress, forward, backward, up, down, and all around, which is a natural flux that varies with time and space.

JaimeRoberto said...

Usually I just dress as a serial killer, which means I don't need a costume, since we look like the rest of you. Though this year I might pin a 100 ruble note to my shirt and go as a Russian asset.

Mary Beth (the commenter) said...

I like self checkout. I do wish that people who don’t go to the grocery store regularly or that don’t have a basic understanding of the different type of vegetables would refrain from using it.

Or people who want to write a check. There were plenty of regular lanes open. Whey would someone go through the express self-checkout if they were planning on writing a check?

Jim at said...

I admit, I've never understood the appeal of strange kids coming to my door and demanding free food or else.

h said...

Tiffany an old ladies name. Hah. And once you tell me: obviously.