So when do you start shopping for Halloween?

California residents shop the 4th latest for Halloween

As the fall season ushers in cooler temperatures and shorter days, it also marks the arrival of one of the most anticipated and celebrated holidays of the year: Halloween. Whether spending a night out trick-or-treating with friends, dressing up in costume for work, or simply decorating the house, Halloween in the U.S. offers something for nearly every age group.

According to data from the National Retail Federation, a staggering 73 percent of Americans plan to participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from 69 percent in 2022. And with these levels of participation, it comes as no surprise that the holiday serves as a substantial economic driver for U.S. retail, ranking among the foremost shopping events of the year.

Americans are projected to spend more than $12 billion in 2023 on Halloween, a number that has risen significantly over the past several years even after adjusting for inflation. For context, in 2005, Americans spent $3.3 billion (or an inflation-adjusted $5.2 billion in 2023 dollars). On a per-household basis, this equates to the average American household spending nearly $110 this year in preparation for Oct. 31.

The largest spending categories for Halloween festivities are costumes, decorations, candy and greeting cards. In 2023, the NRF projects Americans will spend a total of $4.1 billion (34 percent of total) on costumes, $3.9 billion (32 percent of total) on decorations, $3.6 billion (30 percent of total) on candy, and approximately $500 million (4 percent of total) on greeting cards. Interestingly, within the costume category, Americans typically spend more on costumes for adults than on costumes for kids. Adult costumes account for nearly half of costume spending, while costumes for children and pets represent just 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Just as certain radio stations begin airing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, certain Americans start prepping for Halloween long before October. According to data from Google Trends, internet shopping searches for Halloween items begin to inch up in July before growing exponentially to their peak at the end of October. While the majority of Halloween online shopping is performed in October, nearly 30 percent occurs in the three months prior (July–September). This number, however, varies by location.

In West Virginia, nearly 36 percent of online shopping for Halloween supplies occurs between July and September —t he highest of any state.

Other states that prepare early for Halloween include Kentucky (34.3 percent), Alaska (33.8 percent), and Louisiana (33.7 percent). At the opposite end of the spectrum, only 27.2 percent of Halloween shopping takes place during the same three months in Vermont. Behind Vermont, Delaware (27.6 percent), New York (27.8 percent), California (28.0 percent), and Minnesota (28.1 percent) rounded out the bottom five. In these states, a larger share of Halloween shopping occurs in October.

To determine the states that start shopping for Halloween the earliest, researchers at Upgraded Points calculated the percentage of total Halloween shopping Google searches that occurred between July and September each year.

In the event of a tie, researchers ranked states that performed more Halloween internet searches outside of October higher.

The analysis found that 28 percent of Halloween online shopping in California takes place between July and September, while 61.8 percent occurs in October. Overall, California residents begin shopping for Halloween the fourth latest.

Here is a summary of the data for California:

  • Share of Halloween online shopping done July–September: 28.0 percent.
  • Share of Halloween online shopping done in October: 61.8 percent.
  • Share of Halloween online shopping done the rest of the year: 10.2 percent.
  • Location with the most interest in Halloween: Fresno.

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Share of Halloween online shopping done July–September: 29.8 percent.
  • Share of Halloween online shopping done in October: 60.9 percent.
  • Share of Halloween online shopping done the rest of the year: 9.3 percent.
  • Location with the most interest in Halloween: Charleston, West Virginia.