Whether you’re walking door-to-door for candy, celebrating the Celtic pagan festival, Samhain, or partying hard with your friends, odds are you’re spending money on Halloween.

With more than 14 million homes across Canada, there are plenty of places where children can find treats or mischief on Halloween night, but how much does the spooky celebration cost?

The cost of costumes and candy

Infographic by Tatianna Ducklow and Alexandra Nicholson.

During the month of October, people spend around $392.5 million in candy and snack food sales – a 17 per cent spike compared to other months. Manufacturers also produce an estimated $20.1 million in costumes.

Kira Hawes, a Mount Royal University student involved in the MRU Greek Life social club is planning on spending the majority of her money on drinks at two parties she is organizing, one for Greek Life and the other for her friends.

“I reuse old dance costumes, so I am not really paying for costumes,” says Hawes. “So, just like drinks, probably like $40 to $60 bucks depending on how much I want to drink.”

According to a 2015 RetailMeNot survey, Canadians spend on average $52 on costumes and $43 on candy. An average of $42 is spent on decorations which means Halloween can easily cost an average Canadian more than $100.

Infographic by Alexandra Nicholson.

The number of ghouls and princesses at your door

In recent years, the number of trick-or-treaters has fluctuated according to StatCan, with the 2016 numbers up slightly, 1.4%,  from the previous Halloween.

The Calgary Journal caught up with Calgary dad Jason Wiens who was out shopping for Halloween costumes with his son, Miloh at Halloween Alley in Northland Mall. Wiens says he hasn’t noticed a significant difference in the amount he spends on Halloween.

Jason Wiens (right) and his son Miloh (left) are shopping for Halloween Costumes at Halloween Alley in Northland Mall with their $200 budget.  Photo by Simran Sachar.

“Our family usually invests in about $200 for costumes and probably $50 for candy,” says Wiens.

Jennifer Nourse and her kids, Farrah and Tess, spend Halloween decorating their brentwood  house and trick-or-treating. Since Nourse started decorating, she says it’s inspired her neighbours to do the same.

“Actually, in our neighbourhood the numbers (of trick-or-treaters) have gone up,” she says, adding, “People used to go to the mall and now on their way home from the mall they stop by our house — it brings a lot more people into our neighbourhood.”

When it comes to money, most parents interviewed say they are spending anywhere from $60 to $200 on Halloween.

However on a stricter budget Mount Royal University student Hannah Hussain says that she will still buy and pass out candy.

“I’ve got a lot of savings, so passing out candies won’t hurt.”

Scary profits at the box office

Since the early days of Dracula and Frankenstein, to today’s slasher and found-footage flicks, the horror genre has become an established mainstay that people crave at Halloween.

While the genre has seen praise with cult classics like John Carpenter’s Halloween and Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, the highest grossing horror movie of all time is Jaws, with an adjusted domestic box office revenue of US$1.09 billion, according to Where’s the Jump.

This year, on its opening weekend, the Halloween reboot made upwards of US$76 million according to Box Office Mojo.

In a Calgary Journal sampling of 53 Calgarians picking their favourite of seven horror movies, The Conjuring won with 24.53% followed by A Quiet Place and Halloween with 22.64% and 22.54% respectively. 

The Calgary Journal asked Michael Peterson, an award-winning filmmaker based in Calgary, why people are still spending their money to see horror movies.

“It’s pretty exciting just to feel stuff, right?” says Peterson. “Fear is such a deep, dark base of emotions. I think it’s a way … to grapple with the anxiety of the world in a formal construct that you kind of digest in some way.”

Calgary-based filmmaker Michael Peterson, who completed his film Knuckleball in 2018, says the allure of horror movies comes in part from its ability to appeal to the base emotion of fear in viewers. Photo courtesy of Michael Peterson.

Peterson explains the approach to horror is the same as any other genre — you have to serve the story.

“Whether it’s comedy or horror or whatever it is, you need to try to do whatever you think is the right thing to do as a storyteller,” says Peterson.

Whether young or old, there are plenty of other ways to spend your money on Halloween such as:

Editors: Nathan Kunz & Colin Macgillivray | nkunz@cjournal.ca & cmacgillivray@cjournal.ca