Halloween has become one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays, with a record number of Americans buying costumes this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
The average person will shell out $77.52 for costumes, compared to $75.03 last year, an NRF survey found. That doesn’t include the candy, decorations, greeting cards and other accessories.
But there are savings to be had if the thought of paying full price for a costume is too frightening.
Many children’s consignment stores carry gently worn Halloween costumes at a fraction of the price. At one local consignment store, shoppers can buy two to three costumes for the price of a brand-new one.
"As is the case with all children's clothing, they're in them for such a limited time. Halloween is a one-night event," says Robyn Meister, co-owner of Polka Dots , a children's consignment store and boutique in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In fact, buying someone else's outgrown costume is another way shoppers can do their part to go Bright Green.
"We're such a disposable society. It's not good for our environment, and it's not good for our pocketbook," Meister says. "Consigning is a wonderful cycle … You're saving by getting a check for your outgrown clothes, and you're saving by buying someone else's. It's a win-win."
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping consignment-style for Halloween:
- Shop early. Unlike other retail stores, consignment stores typically don’t have multiple costumes of the same style on hand. Start the Halloween hunt as early as late August.
- ...Unless your child is older. Once kids pass age 3, they start to have an opinion about what they want to wear, Meister cautions. And that opinion might change several times, making it more challenging to buy early.
- Take advantage of the lower price. Since you can buy costumes at a faction of the price, you have the luxury of buying an extra one or two costumes to add to your child’s dress-up collection.
- Safety trumps savings. Make sure you’re buying something your child is safe in, regardless of where you purchase it. The savings mean nothing if the ill-fitting costume causes your child to fall and get hurt.
By Emily Kittle