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Sat. Dec. 20 11:22 am
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

Halloween spending could prove spooky

Staff Writer
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
A talking witch stands at the entrance and is triggered when people walk by at Halloween Express in North Augusta.
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Though Halloween spending could be more of a trick than a treat this year, local retailers remain zealous in jump-starting their seasonal offerings.

At Party City in the Augusta Exchange Shopping Center, a plethora of spooky decorations, frightening props and added costume selections and accessories have been on display since the first of August in anticipation of a $750,000 Halloween season, said manager Paul Carter.

“Halloween is pretty much our Christmas,” he said. “We try to set (up) as soon as possible. This either makes or breaks our year.”

Carter is preparing for a big Halloween at Party City, but the National Retail Federation predicts that total revenue generated from this year’s popular fall holiday could haunt some retailers by bringing in about $6.9 billion, down from $8 billion in 2012, the highest figure reached in a 10-year span.

Nearly 158 million consumers, 12 million less people than last year, are expected to participate in the holiday and spend an average of $75 on costumes, decorations, candy, and other festive items. More than half, or about $4.5 billion of total spending, will go toward costumes and decorations, according to the federation’s annual study.

About a third of shoppers pick the month of September to make their Halloween purchases, the federation further stated.

For the fourth consecutive year, Halloween Express opened the doors to its 9,000-square-foot warehouse in North Augusta the weekend before Labor Day, and general manager Mitzi Creel is preparing for a rush in business to begin early October and escalate as the month progresses.

“Usually that last week before Halloween, we’ll keep getting stuff in,” Creel said.

Duck Dynasty and ninja costumes are flying off the shelves at Halloween Express, which doubles as a firework store in the off-season. Costumes range in price from $9.99 to about $80. The most expensive decoration, an animated ghoul in a rocking chair, can cost up to $400, but the average customer spends about $50 per purchase, Creel said.

The store, employing about 15 people, closes its Halloween selection to the public a few days after Oct. 31 with a mark-down sale.

Party City brings in between 20 to 60 extra employees each October depending on business, Carter said.

The store offers about 1,000 costumes displayed along a 56-foot-long wall and an expanded inventory online.

Most customers typically start their Halloween purchases by buying decorations to adorn their homes, Carter said.

“Everybody’s trying to get ready to do the yards and do the houses,” he said. “Then the costumes started picking up last week.”

 

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