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"We will spend $700 million on pet costumes for the most expensive Halloween in history" 2024-04-17 04:54:05

Charlie doesn't want to sit still for a photo.

A Chihuahua-terrier mix in a Superman cape sits next to pumpkins, twirling and sniffing the decor. Jaelin King, standing behind her phone's camera, raises the pitch of her voice to remind him that he's a good boy. Then she holds up a dollar bill, and her wrinkled companion's canine attention holds still long enough for a decent shot.

"We figured Superman would be a good costume because he's just a great all-around dog," King said during a recent visit to a Maryland farm for an autumn festival with her family. One of her two kids is celebrating his first Halloween.

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Halloween is a big party. But if that bothers you, you're not alone FAMILY Do you find Halloween fun but also stressful? You're not alone "I usually have multiple costumes for the kids, but I think this year we went one each," King said. Charlie was the only one with two.

When Charlie isn't a superhero, he'll be dressed as a doughnut.

According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers are expected to spend $700 million on pet costumes this Halloween. Overall, Halloween spending in the U.S. is likely to surpass $12 billion, setting a new record. The NRF estimates the average shopper will spend $108 on candy, costumes, and decorations.

Pumpkin, hot dog, bat, bee, and spider were ranked the top costumes for pets in a survey. Apparently, the opinion of the pets themselves was not sought on this matter. Neither Alissa Peters nor Mike Nemanich, dressed as Jasmine and Aladdin, lead their cheerful Shih Tzu, Bailey, who's dressed as a tiger.

"When I pulled the costume out of the package, she kind of looked at me like, 'Do we really have to do this again?'" Peters chuckled. "You've got to be a team player here."

Candies can cost $500, but the thrills are priceless. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween spending in the United States was actually on the decline. But as quarantined people started decorating their homes more for holidays, they didn't stop.

The Denchfields are expecting between 400 and 500 children to pass through the haunted maze their family home turns into every Halloween night in Bethesda, Maryland.

"It's like a universal holiday where everyone can have a good time," said Kurt Denchfield, standing next to a crate of plastic blood: fake blood, severed limbs, and gory brains.

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Each year, his family transforms their front yard into a haunted maze that's become a top Halloween destination in suburban Bethesda.

To get a treat here, you have to navigate through fog and dodge glowing skeletons, sparking electric tentacles, howling monsters, and, at least one of the Denchfields' six kids wielding a chainsaw.

Kurt Denchfield works on the maze of ghosts, which gets bigger every year. Heather Denchfield is a corporate buyer, and she confirms one of the reasons holiday spending is up: everything's getting more expensive. More expensive sugar, cotton, and building materials mean pricier candies, costumes, and decorations.

To cut costs, the Denchfields reuse their frightening stash year after year. They got cornstalks and pallets through Kurt's landscaping business. But there's one Halloween indulgence they don't skimp on: full-size chocolate bars, waiting for the maze's survivors.

"By the end of the night, we go from full size to fun size," Heather said.

"That's after 400 candy bars," Kurt chimed in. According to their estimate, they've spent $500 on all that chocolate.

And the number of visitors to the haunted maze keeps growing by about 50 kids each year, Kurt added, though he doesn't know if that's from word of mouth or Halloween spirit gone wild.

"We might need a bigger yard if we're going to keep expanding it," he said. "Maybe we can annex the neighbor's yard for one night."

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