A scene from Halloween 2021 in Evanston. Official trick-or-treat hours this year are 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Oct. 31. Credit: Heidi Randhava

The National Retail Federation last month published its 2022 Halloween spending projection for participation in Halloween-related activities and the numbers show a rebound back to prepandemic levels, with 69% of Americans planning to celebrate the holiday this year, up from 65% in 2021 and comparable to 68% in 2019.

With the upsurge in participation, total Halloween spending is expected to reach a record $10.6 billion, exceeding last year’s record of $10.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

And we’re not just talking spending on fun-sized candy bars, though candy is the No. 1 way consumers plan to celebrate, at 67%. Home and yard decor came in second at 51%, followed by dressing up in costume (47%), carving a pumpkin (44%) and throwing or attending a Halloween party (28%).

Source: NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics 2022 Halloween Survey. Credit: National Retail Federation

Consumers plan to spend a whopping $100 on average for Halloween candy, decor, cards and costumes. This amount is on par with last year’s record of $103 and is the second highest figure in the survey’s history, reports the NRF.

Costumes account for the biggest area of Halloween purchases, with spending for kids and adults expected to total $2.9 billion, the highest amount since 2017. Pet spending is expected to exceed last year’s record high, reaching $710 million. Fun fact: One in five plan to dress their pet up in a costume.

Halloween in E-Town

The City of Evanston is also getting into the autumnal groove, with Halloween decor and seasonal goods on sale at various retailers, including Goodwill, Walgreens, CVS, Trader Joe’s and more.

An assortment of pumpkins and gourds offered for sale at Trader Joe’s. Credit: Belinda Lichty Clarke

No Halloween in E-Town would be complete without the wildly popular Zombie Scramble, presented by the City of Evanston and the Ecology Center. The event was on hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This year’s Zombie Scramble, for those 8 and up, is scheduled for Oct. 22, weather permitting.

“We’re excited to hold the event again after missing two years due to the pandemic, “said Margaret Isaacson, program coordinator for the Evanston Parks and Recreation Department. “The event is a great opportunity for families and friends to celebrate the fall season and participate in an active outdoor event.”

A scarecrow – not a zombie – sits in the window at Shaker Traditions on Dempster Street. Credit: Belinda Lichty Clarke

The goal of the Zombie Scramble is for you and your team members to finish the 2-mile course with all of your “lives” intact. Your “lives” are represented by two flags hanging from a belt worn by the participant, as in flag football. Throughout the course, Zombies (Evanston volunteers, not real zombies) will be attempting to grab the flags. Once a participant loses his/her/their flags, you become “infected” and complete the race as an “infected” person.

According to Matt Poole, CPRP, recreation manager for Evanston’s Parks and Recreation Department, as of Oct. 7, the day registration closed, there were close to 900 signups. Add to that approximately 100 zombie volunteers and 500 or more spectators and families, and the event promises to draw close to 2,000 people.

“At the finish there will be s’mores, other food and fun activities, including a photo booth, at the Ecology Center,” Poole said.

More community events

  • From 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St., will hold its third annual Halloween Pop-Up Shop offering new and gently used children’s costumes and accessories available for free. It is first come, first served.
  • From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, police cars, public works trucks, and other City of Evanston vehicles will be dressed in costumes at the annual Trunk-or-Treat event. Parents and young kids (up to 5 years old) can trick-or-treat through the Chandler-Newberger parking lot. Registration is required by calling 847-448-8252.
  • From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Satuday, Oct. 22, Central Street will celebrate Halloween with trick-or-treating and a dance party in Independence Park. Starting at 9 a.m., the Evanston Arts Center will host a craft session where kids can make their own trick-or-treat bags.
  • Evanston’s official trick-or-treat hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31.

Belinda Lichty Clarke works as the alumni engagement director at Medill at Northwestern and is a freelance writer. After graduating with a master’s from Medill in 1994, Belinda worked in public relations,...