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Good Question: When Did Adults Get So Into Halloween?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With two weeks until Halloween, it’s not just the kids getting excited about finding a costume, it’s the adults. Americans are expected to spend $6.8 billion on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations, according to the American Retail Federation. So when did Halloween become such a big deal for adults?

“It’s not that it’s less about kids. But it is definitely more about adults,” said Jim Berg, owner of Twin Cities Magic & Costume in downtown St. Paul.

His store has been open for 25 years, and over that time, Berg said, the focus has shifted from a kids’ holiday to an adult party.

The retail federation spending survey found that in 2011, Americans are expected to spend $1 billion on children’s costumes, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes.

Spending is so robust, there are at least 30 different temporary pop-up Halloween retail stores spread throughout the Twin Cities, Berg said.

“It developed effectively out of marketing and product development,” said Berg, who pointed out that the costumes and makeup available now are of a much higher quality than what was around 20 years ago.

“It’s the availability,” he said. The makeup and prosthetics “turned into such a big deal, it’s like having Hollywood in your own home.”

In 2005, just 52.5 percent of adults said they planned on celebrating Halloween either by dressing up or going to a party. This year, 68 percent of adults said they’d celebrate.

So what changed?

“Like Christmas, people started decorating their homes. One person put out things besides a couple of pumpkins. Then the next door neighbor needed decorations that were bigger and better,” Berg said.

The excitement over fog machines led to excitement over the fog of Halloween parties, he said.

“When Target advertised for Halloween it made it mainstream. You had mainstream retailers promoting the product, marketing the product, and that made it mainstream,” Berg said.

Of course, the costume mix changed as adults started buying more stuff. At Twin Cities Magic & Costume, there’s one room with costumes for children. The rest of the stores is for adults, and quite a few of the costumes are on the risqué side.

There are 21 different varieties of sexy pirate costumes along with traditional pirate costumes. According to Berg, the sexy pirate sells better.

“Ahoy,” he laughed.

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