Halloween by the numbers

It has taken fall a long time to arrive in the Tri-State Area, but the cooler temperatures that rolled in toward the middle of last week and the changing colors of the leaves are great reminders that autumn is here.

That definite change in the seasons came just in time to remind area residents that the rite of fall, Halloween, is just around the corner.

While some communities held their trick-or-treat hours during this weekend, the majority of towns in our region have set their Halloween events for Tuesday night.

Halloween is big business, as I was reminded by results from several surveys that have come across my desk in the last few weeks. What’s even more impressive is just how big it is.

It’s likely that you’ve been stocking up on candy and, if you have children, you’ve been busy getting their costumes ready. And the bet here is that many of you have been looking for a costume to wear either to an adult party or when you accompany your children as they go up and down the street.

Rest assured, you are not alone. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend a record $9.1 billion this year on candy, decorations and costumes.

The average American will spend $25.57 on candy this year, according to numbers compiled by offers.com, with many of us, 39 percent, spending between $1 and $20. Not far behind are the 33 percent who will spend up to $40 on candy. And, if you really go all out, you will be among the 4 percent who will spend more than $81 on candy.

No surprise here — the top Halloween treat is, once again, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which are favored by 32 percent of the respondents in the offers.com poll. The next three favorites are nearly even, with Kit Kat coming in at 19 percent, Twix at 18 percent and M&Ms at 17 percent. Nerds and that old standby, the lollipop, are tied at 7 percent.

And, no matter what your favorite candy, if you have children, it’s likely you will secretly eat some of your child’s Halloween treats. If you do, you’ll be among the 62 percent who told WalletHub, the Washington, D.C.-based personal finance website, that they did.

Decorating for Halloween is important to many people, and, like every other event, we seem to be preparing earlier and earlier. The survey shows that 24 percent of those who decorate start at the end of September. A few people, 3 percent, wait until the day of to put up their decorations.

And if you do decorate, WalletHub says 46.3 percent of Americans plan to carve a pumpkin.

When it comes to the top cities for Halloween celebrations, our region stands right in the middle of the pack, according to WalletHub. While New York ranks first in the top 100, Pittsburgh comes in at only 56th. Columbus is 55th, Cincinnati 58th and Cleveland 96. The survey was based on an 18-point metric that include such items as candy and chocolate stores per capita, the average price of a ticket to a Halloween party, the number of potential trick-or-treaters and the number of potential trick-or-treat stops.

Pittsburgh, for instance, came in fifth in the number of candy shops per capita, but was 98th in the number of potential trick-or-treaters, which is the number of children between the ages of 5 and 14.

As for the favorite costumes, WalletHub says 3.76 million children will dress as their favorite superhero and 2.93 million children will dress as their favorite princess. For adults, 3.2 million will dress as a character from the “Batman” series, and 5.8 million will dress as a witch. Our pets will join the fun, too — 16 percent of Americans will put costumes on their animals, with the most popular being a pumpkin, a hot dog, a lion or a pirate.

My favorite Halloween costume is an outfit I wore in the early 1980s: It was a Ronald Reagan mask, a duster, my trusty Stetson and cowboy boots. It fit in well with the times and remains a classic look.

And, if you are hoping to be able to spend a couple of hours away from the tribulations of the national political scene, you are warned — 4 percent of Americans 35 and older are expected to dress as Donald Trump this Halloween.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)