At least one day out of the year, many people try to put their financial and personal woes behind and celebrate Halloween by spending money on costumes, candy and other trappings associated with the spooky holiday.
“It’s the one day everyone can use their imagination and forget about the economy and other problems,” said Ryan Goldman, a spokesman for Halloween Adventure, a nationwide chain with 20 Southern California costume stores including a 12,000-square-foot seasonal shop in Simi Valley.
Some tri-county Halloween retailers like Goldman’s are predicting another year of success at a time when buying everyday clothes is on the decline as consumers spend more on gasoline and other commodities.
Despite the frightening economic climate, Goldman said business is brisk this year, as indicated by one customer who was expected to pay up to $600 for a Batman costume from the hit movie “The Dark Knight.” Customers looking to pay the minimum should expect to spend $19.99 at Halloween Adventure.
While it may seem far from Hollywood, the rest of the Central Coast appears to be in the mood for the light-hearted diversion Halloween brings. Sales of movie character costumes and masks of political figures are on the rise, according to several area retailers.
In San Luis Obispo, general manager Brandon Farmer said business is bustling at Costume Capers, which moved in August and upgraded its merchandise delivery system.
“We’re really packed in here today,” Farmer said in a telephone interview with the Business Times on a Monday almost two weeks before Halloween.
After more than two decades in downtown San Luis Obispo, Costume Capers moved to a nearby location at 2146 Parker St. because of plans to build Tom Copeland’s Chinatown project.
Farmer said the move allowed the company to install an automated conveyer system. “You can push a button and get your costumes like at a dry cleaners,” he said. Capers has thousands of costumes for sale and rent and Farmer said the median price is about $50.
“We get a lot of customers who aren’t students,” he said, noting that older residents and their families enjoy getting dressed up for Halloween to attend parties or go trick-or-treating.
The Halloween Express store near the Pacific View Mall in Ventura appears just as busy as its competitors. However, its manager declined to discuss details of his business for fear of giving away trade secrets. Halloween Express has more than 200 stores nationally and operates several temporary Halloween supply stores in Ventura County.
Seasonal costume shops like Halloween Express have sprung up along the
South Coast in vacant commercial real estate. For two months ending Nov. 1, they plan to reap profits from regional customers.
Goldman said Halloween Adventure has a year-round shop in Canoga Park that, like Costume Capers, sells merchandise around other holidays such as New Year’s Eve, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day.
“Last year we had stores in Ventura, Oxnard and Simi Valley,” said Goldman, who indicated the company consolidated two of the shops in the popular Simi Valley location. “Halloween Adventure has been in the Sycamore Village Shopping Center in Simi Valley for the last five years. We love Ventura County.”
It’s no wonder retailers try to capitalize on the public’s desire to celebrate Halloween.
The National Retail Federation reported this month that more consumers will celebrate the holiday this year – 64.5 percent compared to 58.7 percent in 2007. Spending for Halloween 2008 will approach $6 billion, the federation reported on its Web site.
Along with costumes and candy, what would Halloween be without jack o’ lanterns and pumpkin patches?
Farm bureaus and agricultural commissioners in the Tri-Counties said they don’t usually track pumpkin crops in terms of tonnage or availability.
However, some officials said so far this year, drought conditions and frosts have prompted no reports of problems with the pumpkin harvest.