Video: Retailers have no problem scaring up business

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/31/2006 7:57:48 PM ET 2006-11-01T00:57:48

Millions nationwide are crazy about this non-religiousrespite from school, work and one's own true self — for one reason.

"It's so worth it," says a visitor to NBC Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. "Halloween is so much fun!"

And those costs, from the $60 a pop to see the "scaracters" at Universal Studios to pricey costumes (and not just for humans), to the rejuvenated Voodoo tours in recovering New Orleans, have all transformed Halloween from a holiday to a whole season. It's a nearly $5 billion retail bonanza.

"Halloween is by far the biggest one for us at Party City," says Deborah Radman, a spokeswoman for the national chain. "We just love Halloween."

Retailers love Halloween because families like the Healys of Hohocus, N.J., spend hundreds each year showing they love it too.

"This is really our way of rediscovering our childhood," says Sean Healy.

And it really is about that: to be a kid, whatever your age; to be someone or something else for the sake of fun and mischief, if only for a few hours.

That's why Brooklyn's Halloween show, once held in a hall for a couple of thousand kids, now needs the great outdoors to handle the crowds.

"We're thinking 15,000 people, minimum," says organizer Jerry Kassar.

It's why "Saw III," a horror movie with no big name stars, swamped the competition and earned nearly $35 million last week.

And why even Godiva chocolatier now takes its brand name for a yearly ride on the Halloween bandwagon.

"During the last 10 days we've sold 10,000 dipped strawberries," says Sharon Rothstein, Godiva's vice president for global marketing and merchandise.

There areHalloween Grinches, like the Florida professor who says his research proves there are no ghosts, zombies or vampires — and says he's not kidding.

"Absolutely not," says Dr. Costas Efthimious atthe University of Central Florida. "I'm a physicist — I have no sense of humor!"

But kids do, and grownups do, along with a sense of fun. They're spending 50 percent more to indulge this year than ever before.

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