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Popular Halloween Costumes in 2012

Witches, princesses and Big Bird are popular nationally; local kids are looking for creepy, gory costumes.

This year, trick-or-treaters, pampered (and/or tortured) pets and partygoers all over the U.S. will dress up in spooky, adorable, cute or funny costumes and hit the town for Halloween.

Some local kids are looking for creepier costumes this year, said Harold Grabes, general manager of a Fairfax County Party City store.

“This season, they’re going more gory and haunted,” Grabes said. “For every kid that asks for something like Luigi, I get about ten more asking for the Grim Reaper.”

Ryan Whalen, a sales representative at Target on Richmond Highway in Fairfax County said he has received a lot of calls from people who are interested in Avengers-related costumes for their children.

However, Whalen said Target does stock some of their other commonly popular Halloween costumes, such as vampires, princesses, witches, fruit costumes, Hello Kitty, werewolves, zombies and a whole Star Wars section.

Thanks to the recent presidential debates, Big Bird costumes are selling quickly nationwide. (The sales trend was sparked when Gov. Mitt Romney told PBS' Jim Lehrer he would cut funding to PBS.) Several women may also be trying to figure out how to dress up as a three-ring binder, thanks to a comment Romney made during the second presidential debate about recruiting "binders full of women" for cabinet jobs in Massachusetts. 

Witches, Princesses, Vampires Reign

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend nearly $3 billion on Halloween costumes this year, and most of them will dress as witches, princesses, vampires and other traditional outfits.

A record 170 million people plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to NRF’s 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight. Seven in ten Americans (71.5%) will get into the haunting Halloween mood, up from 68.6 percent last year and the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history.


About six million adults plan to dress as a witch, according to NRF, and 3.2 million will dress up as vampires. For children, princess costumes take the number one spot (9.7%), with Batman (5.4%) and Spider-Man (4.6%) as the second and third on the list respectively. For those planning to dress their pets for Halloween, 12.7 percent of people are sticking with a pet-friendly pumpkin costume.

“By the time Halloween rolls around each year, it’s safe to say Americans have already spent two months preparing for one of the fastest-growing and most widely-loved holidays of the year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a recent press release. “Retailers know that when it comes to Halloween, new costume ideas for children, adults and pets, and the latest in home and yard décor top people’s shopping lists. We expect retailers to stock their shelves well ahead of time to capture the attention of eager holiday shoppers.”

The parties, candy and trick-or-treating are all exciting aspects of Halloween. But choosing a costume is just as fun for many people.

“Choosing a costume is one of the most entertaining parts of Halloween,” said Shay. “With many families on the hunt for adult, child and pet costumes this year, retailers are making sure they’ve got their shelves fully stocked with a wide variety of costumes, including the traditional and even the not-so-traditional garbs inspired by Hollywood and even pop-culture.”

Several people will look for inspiration for their costumes in their local retail stores, NRF stated. Social media will also play a role in people’s costume choices this year. They will log on to Facebook to find inspiration, and they often use search engines such as Google to get creative ideas as well. Others will ask friends and family members for costume ideas.

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