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Tradition driving Halloween trends

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 4:31 p.m. CDT

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It's the big question facing children every October: what are they going to be for Halloween?

"People like to be movie stars," said Lauren Woods, the owner of Cracker Jax in DeKalb, with a laugh. "Whatever the current movie is."

Although they don't sell costumes, the downtown DeKalb store features a variety of Halloween accessories, such as hats, sweaters, wigs, tiaras and jewelry, that will complement a homemade costume.

Woods said the 1950s era has always been popular, especially the sweaters.

"And now the 80s are considered vintage," she said.

"We've had a lot of people looking for fairy wings," Claurissa Hale, the assistant manager at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in DeKalb, said.

Hale said the store, which deals with all ages, including a lot of Northern Illinois University students, sells both costumes and accessories, including capes, for those who want to make their own costumes. So far, she said, the store has sold the traditional Halloween costumes, noting that they haven't seen any new trends developing.

According to the 10th annual survey by the National Retail Federation, the most popular Halloween costumes are witches for women, vampires for men, princesses for girls, Batman for boys and pumpkins for pets. Approximately 6 million women plan to dress as a witch this year, while 10 percent of girls will don a princess costume.

Other popular outfits for adults include pirates, Batman, zombies, vixens, nurses, ghosts, Catwoman and superheroes.

Other popular outfits for children are Spiderman, witches, superheroes, pirates, vampires and ghosts.

One of the most popular dog costumes is to dress them like a cat. Other pet favorites include hot dogs, bees, ghosts, bow ties and various superheroes.

Some costume goers will take their cues from current events.

"With nearly one in 10 celebrants taking their costume cues from current events, we'll see plenty of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney look-a-likes," Pam Goodfellow, a director of BIGinsight, which directed the survey, said in a company press release.

The survey also reports that 35.7 percent of people get their costume ideas from retail stores, 33.3 online, 23.7 from friends and family, 19.3 from print media, 15.2 from Facebook and 14.8 from pop culture.

Only 6.7 percent will use the same costume from year to year.

In their Halloween consumer spending survey, the NRF reports that a record 170 million people are expected to participate in Halloween, spending an average of $79.82 a person for costumes, decorations and candy. This is up from last year's figure of $72.31. The total expenditure is expected  to reach $8 billion.

According to Business Pundit, Halloween is the fifth biggest spending holiday of the year. As might be expected, Christmas is first.

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