Halloween is cool. It also happens to be a sweet treat for the economy. (No trick.)
So much so that more than 171 million Americans plan to partake in some ghoulish fun this holiday and spend a frightening amount on candy, costumes, cards, decorations, pumpkins and parties. Candy sales alone for the holiday are projected to reach $2.5 billion! In a typical week, Americans spend about $300 million on 76 million pounds of candy.
In case you were wondering what Florida’s favorite Halloween candy is… it certainly isn’t candy corn. Online candy wholesaler CandyStore.com compiled eight years of sales data and found Floridians prefer to taste the rainbow over chocolates, such as the popular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Turns out Florida shoppers buy Skittles more than any other candy, consuming an estimated 330 tons of Skittles since 2007. Check out CandyStore.com’s interactive map below to see how other best-selling candies fared throughout the U.S.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to dish out a record $8.4 billion, or an average of $82.93 per person, for Halloween 2016. Compared to last year, that’s a $1.5 billion increase.
Halloween isn’t just for kids. Research shows the holiday is attracting a growing number of families in addition to millennials thanks to social media. For Florida retailers, green will be the new orange and black.
“More families are making a bigger deal out of Halloween each year, with consistent increases in per consumer spending, which should make for frighteningly good sales figures for retailers this month,” said Randy Miller, Florida Retail Federation president and CEO, in a press statement. “We fully expect Florida’s Halloween sales to meet or exceed the national numbers thanks to sustained positive economic indicators and a healthy state economy.”
With Halloween less than a week away, many spooky celebrations and festivities are taking place throughout the state. Here are a few favorite places FORWARD Florida likes to haunt:
Celebrating its ninth anniversary, A Petrified Forest is one of the highest rated Halloween scare trails in Central Florida and also features live music, food concessions and entertainment. The main terror trail is almost a mile long with uniquely themed rooms and mega scares around every turn. Expect twice the ghouls, goblins, and other creatures that go bump in the night this year. The event runs until Oct. 29. Tickets range from $12-$15.
The Chamber of Terror ONSLAUGHT is not your run-of-the-mill haunted house. Sure there is a vengeful Captain Berrick and his crew of killing experiments on the loose, but what’s interesting is this experience takes place aboard The American Victory Ship docked at Channelside. Visitors are forced to go deep in the hull of the WWII cargo vessel and find their way out amid intense sets and characters. This multi-level haunt is touted as Florida’s only nautical nightmare and was voted the No.1 Haunted House in Florida by floridasbesthaunts.com. The attraction is open through Halloween. Admission starts at $25.
Billed as the only ghost tour that gets you inside the lighthouse at night, this experience offers visitors the chance to investigate the most haunted place in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. The ghost guided tour delves into the history and mystery behind the light station, including the paranormal phenomena that take place there. It has even been featured on TAPS/Ghost Hunters, CNN, Parade Magazine, Fox News and The Weather Channel. Tickets for the tour are $25 for adults and $20 for children.
A newer tradition under the Big Top tent, Florida State University’s “Flying High” Circus – one of the few collegiate circuses in the nation – puts on a thrilling Halloween-themed production each October. Performances showcase dancing zombies, flipping mummies and skeletons flying through the air. Boo! There are only two shows left: Thurs., Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. and Fri., Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Admission starts at $9.
The Little Lighthouse Foundation, a nonprofit supporting children with educational, financial and medical hardships in South Florida, will be hosting its 7th annual Nightmare on the Beach charity event, Oct. 29, on Miami Beach. This Dia de los Muertos-themed extravaganza includes elaborate pavilions, live entertainment, cocktails, a special Lucha Libre tribute and more. A Halloween parade for kids (free) will be held during the day, featuring trick-or-treating and family fun activities.
The first ever people’s parade will be held Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in the historic Ybor City district. The inaugural March of the Pumpkin King is expected to attract thousands for a Halloween revolution party of floats, costumes and music down 7th Ave. Discounts on food and beverage in specialty venues are available after the parade. For a $20 general admission ticket, revelers can party in style on a themed float. And for $80 more as a VIP, participants receive a pre-VIP party at Crowbar, drink tickets and post-party at Guavaween Zone, in addition to a spot on a float.
Central Florida’s most famous family friendly spooktacular celebration transforms the Magic Kingdom with its special themed décor and chilling menu of festivities, all in addition to the park attractions. It features parades, character meet and greets, numerous trick-or-treat trails and entertainment. Next to the treats, fan favorites include the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus and other iconic Disney villains running amok. For foodie enthusiasts, a buffet of sweet treats and drinks are available at the Happy HalloWishes Dessert Party. Visitors can call 407-939-5262 for more information about special dessert party pricing and reservations. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween continues through Oct. 31 on select nights. Tickets start at $72.
Have fun this Halloween, Floridians, if you dare …