Move Over, Dracula: Here Comes Keg Monster!

A Scary Economy Doesn't Frighten Halloween Revelers


Oct. 11, 2005 —  Why go to a keg party this Halloween when you can be the Keg Party? One of the hottest new adult costumes allows you to transform yourself into a beer keg with a functioning "tap" hat to fill your date's mug.

Americans spent $1.09 billion last year on Halloween costumes, and the National Retail Federation now estimates that the average consumer will spend about $50 on trick-or-treat related merchandise, up 5.4 percent from last year. That makes it the sixth-biggest spending holiday.

"Even with gas prices so high and the economy shaky, this is going to be the best year ever," says John Majdoch of Halloween Express, which sells through 118 stores in 33 states. "I think people need a little escapism for themselves and their families."

Kids may be the only ones knocking on doors for candy, but Halloween costuming is just as much a business for adults. The $62 Keg Man costume — which holds 16 ounces of beer — is one of Halloween Express's top sellers.

Online companies like say that adult costumes now account for 70 percent of their costume sales, especially sexy costumes for the ladies.

"I think if you're going to be a sexy cop or a naughty nurse, even if you're wearing that outfit to a party, most women are going to be more comfortable shopping in privacy rather than in stores," says Shannon Clouston, chief shopper at

With adult costumes costing $50 on average — twice as much as kids' costumes — it's easy to see why it's the fastest-growing segment of the business. Some are for party-hardy college-age revelers, but many others are for parents who no longer let their kids trick-or-treat without supervision.

Night of the Scary Leisure Suit Guys

The skyrocketing costs are turning more folks into do-it-yourselfers. Goodwill Industries — which has a national network of nonprofit thrift stores — now says Halloween sales have turned October into its biggest sales month, accounting for 10 percent of annual sales.

"Goodwill has become a Halloween tradition. People come, find vintage '70s clothing, and they're disco queens or scary leisure suit guys," says spokeswoman Christine Bragale. "When you're done with your costume, you can bring it back to Goodwill and someone will wear it next year."

For those kids who have to stay on the cutting edge, the top movies and TV shows usually account for must-have costumes. "Star Wars" characters — especially Yoda for the kids and Darth Vader for guys — are this year's hottest licensed items.

"Batman" and "Fantastic Four" are making a comeback, thanks to hit summer movies, but many retailers are saying that last year's No. 1 seller, "Spider-Man," is still going strong, as is a host of characters from the "Harry Potter" series.

While girls go for "Harry Potter" and various super heroes, too, Disney princesses and Barbie themes are still perennial top sellers for young ladies.

You'll also likely see a parade of dapper birds at your doorstep. "March of the Penguins" and "Madagascar" have turned a flightless-yet-lovable Antarctic bird into a high-flying seller.

Also sneaking up this year are such characters as Lava Girl and Shark Boy from the Robert Rodriguez summer film, and the Fanta Girls, from the fruity soda commercials, according to Dean Tsouvalas of Lycos, the Internet search engine, which now lists Halloween costumes as its 10th most-requested search term.