By Nivedita Bhattacharjee
(Reuters) - When the black cats, witches and trick-or-treaters come out for Halloween this year, a record 170 million people in the United States will dress up, celebrate, and spend up to $8 billion, according to a retail industry survey.
Seven in ten Americans will take part in the festivities, and the average person will spend $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy - up from $72.31 last year, according to the National Retail Federation's 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey conducted by research group BIGinsight.
Halloween, observed on October 31, is the eighth-biggest selling season in the United States. It is far behind the winter holidays which rank as the No. 1 retail selling season.
Last year, retailers raked in $471.5 billion during the winter holidays, according to NRF. Halloween sales were about $6.9 billion, lower than holiday spending associated with Mother's Day ($18.6 billion) and the Super Bowl ($11 billion).
Among people celebrating Halloween this year, more than half will decorate their home or yard, up from 49.5 percent last year, and 45.0 percent plan to dress in costume, also up from last year, according to the survey.
The study, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent, polled 9,393 consumers from September 5 to September 11.
More than one-third plan on throwing or attending a Halloween party and 33.2 percent will take children trick-or-treating.
Despite the expected increase in Halloween spending this year, one-fourth of U.S. consumers said the state of the economy will affect their Halloween plans. To compensate, many said they will spend less overall, while others plan to make a costume instead of buying one, or will buy less candy.
(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; editing by Matthew Lewis)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp