Halloween popularity rises amid generational spending shift

18 October 2023 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Even as UK consumers scale back their spending on Christmas amid a cost-of-living crisis, Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are helping inflate the annual revenues of the country’s Halloween economy. New research suggests that spending on the ancient pagan celebration will pass £1 billion for the first time in 2023.

In its modern form, Halloween is often implied as an example of ‘creeping Americanization’. But the celebrations originate from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, and pagan equivalents across Europe. As harvest season ended, the last evening of October marked the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year. People thought the wall between their realm and the Otherworld was easier to cross at this point – and so they would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off malignant spirits and entities.

Those are all traditions that live on today, it just exists in a world where like everything else, it has been monetised by the pervasive forces of capital. And how! According to a new study from fintech Finder, Halloween spending in the UK is set to pass the £1 billion mark in 2023 – even as consumers watch their spending for other end-of-year celebrations.

Halloween popularity rises amid generational spending shift

A recent survey from PwC suggested that close to one-in-three British adults expect to spend less on Christmas this year, with most blaming the rising cost of living. But a survey, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Finder, of 2,000 adults across the UK – combined with data from Mintel, YouGov, and the World Economic Forum – suggests that UK Halloween festivities will cost a combined £1.07 billion in 2023.

That represents a meteoric rise from 2013, when British adults were only spending a total of £230 million on costumes, candy, films, pumpkins (or turnips for the diehard traditionalists) lighting and other decorations during ‘spooky season’. Behind that rise in popularity, Finder’s poll seems to demonstrate a generational shift in consumer demographics across the UK.

In 2013, the last year of Millennials were still not ‘adults’, at 17 years old. Meanwhile, the youngest members of Generation Z were just one year old. Now, half of that generation is also adult consumers – and they are increasingly removed from the traditional sensibilities of Generation X and Baby Boomer consumers.

Halloween popularity rises amid generational spending shift

Gen Z are the biggest spenders when it comes to Halloween in 2023, with 87% of the growing consumer cohort planning to spend an average of £46 each on celebrations, decorations and costumes. Millennials are also excited for Halloween this year, with 76% planning to spend an average of £41 each. And while just 12.5% of the Silent Generation and 28% of Baby Boomers are expecting to make purchase as part of their Halloween celebrations, they are both declining portions of the consumer pool. Gen X meanwhile sits somewhere in the middle, with 53% planning to spend £33 each on average.

Speaking on the emerging trends, UK Editor in Chief Liz Edwards commented, “Whether you don a scary outfit or just hand out sweets to trick-or-treaters, there’s no escaping Halloween. This planned Halloween spending is 38% more than our original projection of £777 million based on past spending and shows that the UK is ready to embrace the spooky season this year. But under the headline figure, it’s worth noting that 2 in 3 (67%) are planning to spend either nothing or less than £20 on Halloween.”

A regional breakdown of the study also found that not every region in the UK was enthusiastic about Halloween. While seven-in-ten consumers in London are planning to spend an average of £49.50 each this October, Scotland is the only region where less than half of people are planning to spend on Halloween – at 47%. At the same time, the average spend of respondents in Northern Ireland was far lower than the national rate – at just under £30.