by Sara Mead
The National Retail Federation reports that American families are planning to spend less on Halloween this year, with the biggest cuts coming out of candy expenditures. It’s not that folks are planning to forego Halloween candy altogether (or at least only 5% of those polled are), but nearly half of respondents say they’ll be tightening belts when it comes to Halloween candy purchases this fall. Chalk it up to the bad economy–which seems to be squeezing the fun out of all aspects of life–even those as seemingly cheap and innocent as Halloween candy.
Compared to costumes and decorations, Halloween candy may seem like the cheapest part of the Halloween package–but for folks who live in subdivisions and other areas that get besieged by hordes of tiny ghouls each Halloween, the costs of an adequate candy supply can add up.
What might this mean for kids? A couple thoughts:
1.) Less candy: Rather than handing kids a couple of pieces of candy, or letting them grab treats out of the pumpkin bowl themselves, folks are going to give kids just one item.
2.) Smaller, cheaper candies: Forget about the miniature packets of M&Ms, Whoppers, and Skittles, or “snack size” candy bars–the most treasured and expensive of the Halloween treats. Expect less chocolate, which is more expensive, and more tootsie rolls, dum dum suckers, smarties, and those orange and black peanut butter things that most people hate but that are actually delicious.
3.) Fewer “healthy” treats: The previous two may be bummers for kids, but there is a potential upside. “Healthier” handouts–those little packets of raisins, pretzels, Teddy Grahams (I keep seeing these at CVS), and dental floss–are more expensive than the cheaper candy options, so kids may be finding fewer of these in their bags.
4.) Fewer leftovers: Maybe kids won’t see the brunt of candy cut-backs, but folks will just be less cautious in their candy purchases, remembering the amount they had left over last year and ratcheting down the amount they think they need, so they wind up with fewer leftovers. This may end up being bad news for kids anyway, who don’t get to dispose of their families’ own candy leftovers, or, depending on how you look at it, either good or bad news for grown-ups who are trying to limit candy consumption and see Halloween leftovers as an excuse to cut loose.
Of course, this is all assuming people are actually going to cut back on candy purchases at all. Maybe folks are just telling pollsters they’re cutting back because they want to sound responsible. Or maybe these results are nothing new, and people tell themselves every year that they’re going to cut back, but when push comes to shove, they wind up going with the good stuff anyway and throwing in a few extra bags they hope they get to eat themselves–these reports are noticeably lacking in comparisons with what people said in previous years. I’m betting that, in these high-stress times, people could use the innocent pleasure provided by candy–in moderation, of course.