THE RISING COST OF EVERYTHING: Inflation Cutting into Halloween Fun

Wyoming families find creative ways to celebrate Halloween amid record prices

By Jennifer Kocher

Special to the Wyoming Truth

GILLETTE, Wyo. – Brook Goold was happy with her find. The 4-year-old held up the plastic bag containing a headband with red-and-black polka dot ears for her mom to inspect. 

“That works,” Penny Goold said, “and you already have your wings at home.”  

Better yet was the $1.65 price tag at the Value Villa consignment store in Gillette. Goold, a 38-year-old mom of three girls and one boy, ranging in age from 2 to 8, gave herself a $20 budget to buy all four costumes. 

The price of Halloween candy hit a record high this year, up 13% from 2021. (Wyoming Truth photo by Jennifer Kocher)

So far, she was well under her spending limit. At the last secondhand store they visited, Goold paid about $5 for three costumes, one of which was brand new. 

Amid spiraling inflation, Wyoming families like the Goolds are looking for ways to stretch their Halloween dollars. 

On average, an American family spends $100 on Halloween expenses, according to the National Retail Federation. Total spending is expected to hit a record high of $10.6 billion this year—up from $10.1 billion in 2021.

That’s because in 2022, all things Halloween are more expensive.  

Candy, for example, recently hit a record high, up 13% over last year’s prices, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index. Families will also pay more for pumpkins: an average pumpkin costs about $5.40, up about .60 cents over last year’s average price of $4.80, Statista reported.

The price of Halloween costumes is harder to pin down because CPI does not have a specific category to gauge those costs. Generally speaking, both men and women’s apparel climbed 5.5%, according to the same report. 

Anecdotally, Jessica Cline was shocked by the prices of costumes this year. She went online to Amazon to shop for Mini Mouse costumes for her 2-year-old twins, Olivia and Charlotte. Then she saw the price tag.

“They were $40 each,” Cline said by phone from her home near Casper. “I can’t afford to pay $80 for two Halloween costumes.”

Cline saw some cheaper ones advertised, including $20 princess costumes and a few more for $15 to $20 each. But even that was more than the 34-year-old mother wanted to spend.

“I was worried about what we were going to do this year,” she said.

A friend told Cline about Once Upon a Child, a secondhand children’s clothing and toy store, where she found a $10 cat and a mouse costume. It wasn’t exactly what she was looking for, but it was a bargain.

Jessica Cline found costumes for her two-year-old twins for $10 at a thrift store in Casper. Charlotte is dressing as a mouse.

Jessica Cline found costumes for her two-year-old twins for $10 at a thrift store in Casper. Charlotte is dressing as a mouse.

(Courtesy photo from Jessica Cline)

The cost of candy gave Cline sticker shock, too. “I couldn’t believe how much prices had gone up since last year,” she said. 

Cline ended up at Costco, where she bought two bags of candy to stretch her $50 budget: the 100-piece bags of name-brand chocolate bars for around $30 and a bag of Skittles and Starbursts for around $15.

Typically, Cline purchases three to four bags to cover all the trick-or-treaters in her family-friendly neighborhood in Bar Nunn, outside Casper.

“This year, I’m going to have to turn out the porch lights when it’s gone,” she said. 

Some families are opting to splurge on Halloween and cut back elsewhere. Ashlee and Zac Lowndes always throw a lavish Halloween-themed birthday party for their middle daughter, Emma, at their home in Casper. Emma turned 10 on  Oct. 18, and the Lowndes will continue the tradition with a Disney movie-themed “Hocus Pocus” celebration.  

Lowndes, 36, had expected to pay more this year. But she experienced sticker shock when she got to Spirit Halloween, a costume store in Casper: Prices are almost double for everything from costumes to decorations compared to last year. 

“Everything is so expensive,” said Lowndes, who, along with Emma, has four other daughters ranging in age from 1 to 13. “Last year, we spent around $220 [for costumes and accessories], and this year it’s nearly $400.

The Lowndes invested in new costumes for everyone except their youngest daughter who will wear a recycled duck costume. Prices ranged from $45 to $50 for a Winifred witch outfit, while  accessories like masks and gloves cost an additional $15 to $25.

To compensate for the extra $200 they spent on the party, the couple will cut back on dining out and extracurricular activities. 

Said Lowndes: “It was really a stretch financially, but we try to make the girls’ birthdays and holidays special for the family.” 

The financial pinch may be real for Wyoming families, but in the end, inflation can’t cancel Halloween. 

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