Halloween Costs and Concerns

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Well, the first big shopping holiday is right around the corner; no, not Thanksgiving, it is Halloween. After Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, Halloween is the holiday that gets most deeply into our wallets. It is also a holiday that brings great joy to retailers everywhere because literally billions of dollars will be spent on costumes for children and adults, decorations, greeting cards and, of course, candy.

All told, estimates are that we Halloween party goers and throwers will spend about $7 billion on Halloween this year. And, if we do, that will be a will be a billion short of our 2012 record spending. The KaChing meter hit $8 billion that year and these numbers are up from somewhere around $2.5 billion in 1995. If you consider that $2.5 billion in 1995, accounting for inflation, would be about $3.7 billion in 2012, Halloween has beaten inflation by about a factor of 2. Not bad for a skeleton and a black cat.

Why the growth? As they say, “experts differ” or as us more plain spoken country folk say, “who knows?” One opinion is that it is the “revenge of the grown-ups” as baby boomers, GenXers and Millennials continue celebrating Halloween well into adulthood; another opinion is that Halloween represents a sort of low budget holiday everyone can participate in. Whatever the reason, it is a retailer’s dream and has become the official pre-holiday that kicks off the holiday season.

While spending on candy, costumes and cards is of big interest to retailers, we here at Homer Smith Insurance are in the insurance business and while we like bobbing for apples as much as the next person, we recognize that there can be a dark side to Halloween as well. Some writers suggest we need to be concerned about crime on Halloween and, for sure, the notion of “trick or treat” implies some coercion, but increased rates of reported crime actually don’t seem to be supported by statistics. Occasional scary reports of people putting poison or razorblades in candy appear to be just urban myths – a bit like witches and ghosts. One very detailed statistical study of crime in Boston showed a spike in violent crime on Halloween night and specifically in the early evening hours, but by and large Halloween seems much like any other night from a crime perspective. There is one area of concern though; Halloween is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrian accidents. Children are at particular risk according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the America Automobile Association – which is not difficult to understand when you have millions of excited children eating sugar on the streets after dark.

We recently shared some common sense tips through an email to clients and friends and they bear repeating here.

  • Set ground rules and if your child will be trick-or-treating without you, establish a route and don’t allow your child go door to door in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
  • Walk on sidewalks and driveways where possible and when crossing a street, always cross at a corner or in a crosswalk.
  • If possible, carry a cellular phone.
  • Make sure your child carries a flashlight, glow stick or apply reflective tape on their costume to remain visible.
  • To keep kids from tempting to dig into their candy before you get home, feed them a meal or snack beforehand.
  • If you bring your pet along, make sure they have IDs. Halloween is the second most common day for pets to get lost – after the 4th of July.
  • Remind your child of the dangers of getting into a stranger’s car at any time. If someone stops them and asks for help or offers them candy, tell them to scream as loud as they can and run.
  • If your child has a food allergy, be sure to carry their emergency medicines with you.
  • When driving, remember that children are everywhere. Be alert and drive slower than the speed limit in neighborhoods.

Have a safe and happy Halloween from all of us at Homer Smith Insurance.

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