Halloween spending

Scary costumes can be found at Spirit Halloween, as seen Monday, Octobver 13, 2014 in Chambersburg.According to the National Retail Foundation's annual Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, which polled 6,322 consumers, more than $7.4 billion will be spent with more than two-thirds, saying they will buy a Halloween costume this year. (AP Photo/Public Opinion, Markell DeLoatch)

Markell DeLoatch

Jim Archer and Heidi Schenk know their Halloween celebration is over the top. And that’s the point.

The couple host a fundraising “haunted graveyard” at their 115 Bay St. home each year, with proceeds benefiting AIM Services, where Jim Archer works.

The graveyard is no peaceful place. There are several life-size dioramas, complete with animatronic monsters, witches and zombies.

This year, Archer and Schenk spent about $1,000 to upgrade their displays. That’s before the $200 or so they’ll spend on batteries to keep it all running and the candy they’ll buy to hand out to kids, they said.

But as extreme as their love for the holiday is, Archer said he knows others are jumping on the Halloween hay wagon.

“I’ve got one guy who comes over every year and gets ideas for his place over in South Glens Falls,” he said.

Recent surveys show Archer and Schenk, while spending well beyond what the average consumer forks over for the holiday, are part of a growing industry.

IBISWorld, a retail industry analysis company, said Halloween is getting a boost this year from the calendar: The holiday falls on a Friday. It’s also not taking place under the shadow of a federal government shutdown, as was the case a year ago.

Halloween sales, as a result, are expected to be up 3.4 percent this year, to a total of $7.29 billion. The Friday holiday is expected to hurt candy sales, as more consumers opt to host or attend Friday night parties this year.

All those celebrations boost sales of party supplies, including beer.

Michael Minogue is co-owner of Minogue’s Beverage Center, with locations in Queensbury and Saratoga Springs. He said this week sales of beer for Halloween parties has increased as fast as craft brewers can make seasonal brews.

“Today, when you look at Halloween, and you look at the number of craft beers that are put to market for October, it just increases exponentially every year,” he said. “There’s craft beers this year that we’ve never heard of that next year will have pumpkin beers available.

“Three or four years ago, there were maybe one or two pumpkin beers, and now everybody and their brother has a pumpkin beer.”

Minogue said he has seen an uptick in people reserving kegs for parties this Halloween, mostly for Octoberfest or pumpkin beers.

“There will definitely be a lot of activity,” he said.

Britt Patch, owner of the Boar’s Nest Bar & Grill in Fort Ann has been throwing Halloween costume parties at her business for years. She said she always tries to host the party before the holiday, so it doesn’t conflict with other traditions, like trick-or-treating.

“The way things are now, they’re more family-oriented,” Patch said. “A lot of people throw house parties (closer to Halloween), as well.”

She said the festivities are on par with her biggest parties of the year. “I’d say it’s probably not as busy as New Year’s, but it’s pretty darn close,” Patch said. “People love it; they love to get dressed up.”

And dress up, they will. Costume sales are expected to benefit from a full weekend of festivities, hitting an all-time high of $2.76 billion this year, according to IBISWorld. That’s up 5.6 percent from 2013’s Halloween, IBISWorld said.

The National Retail Federation also anticipates a jump in spending, with 67.4 percent of survey respondents — the most in the survey’s 11-year history — saying they planned to buy Halloween costumes this year.

There is also a new option for consumers in the Glens Falls area this year, as the Party City retail chain has opened a Halloween City store in Queensbury Plaza on Upper Glen Street in Queensbury.

A store employee there said Tuesday it’s the store’s first foray into the area, though she would not give her name.

Messages left with the store manager and the Party City corporate office were not returned.

Spirit Halloween, which has opened seasonal stores in the region for years, has moved to 1540 state Route 9 in Queensbury this year. A message left with that store’s manager also was not returned.

The National Retail Federation called Halloween one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays.

Its survey even showed Americans are planning to spend $350 million on costumes for their pets this year.

“We fully expect there will be a record number of consumers taking to the streets, visiting haunted houses and throwing unforgettable celebrations,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a prepared statement.

Archer and Schenk, whose haunted graveyard brought in $150 in cash and three large totes full of canned goods last year, said they are hoping the exuberance translates into a strong turnout this year.

“I’m hoping we can set a new record (for donations),” Schenk said.

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