Halloween spending has rocketed in the UK. And though we’re not on a par with America, our high streets are more reliant on the holiday every year. Is consumerism ripping the barely beating heart out of Halloween?
Witches on broomsticks and facemasks on Britton’s, bright orange pumpkins and blood thirsty… kittens.
Ok, my rhyming dictionary has failed me there. But what I’m trying to say is that these are a few of my favourite Halloween things.
A traditional British festival
I’ve always liked Halloween – a British Celtic festival that many feel has been bastardised by America. However, when I lived in Scotland as a wee nipper, Halloween was a huge event.
In England the whole holiday seems to be an excuse for children to gobble up free sweets, but in the Highlands people of all ages would jump head first into ghoulish activities. And there wouldn’t be any free sweets for your trick-or-treating. You’d have to earn teeth rotters by performing a ‘wee turn’ – a poem or song etc.
I’d say the Scottish Halloweens of my past approached the feverishness of America, which is undoubtedly the country that takes the biggest bite out of this horrific holiday. The US is expected to spend £3.7 billion pounds on Halloween this year, that’s almost £12 for every person. This compares to just £4.50 a head in the UK.
Has Halloween consumerism gone batty?
But not so fast! Are you finding it difficult to avoid pumpkins, toffee apples and ghastly costumes this year? Well, that’s because Britain’s Halloween spending has risen from a measly £12m in 2001 to a frightful £280m expected for 2010. That’s a gruesome 23-fold increase.
Not only that but spookily we’re spending twice as much on pumpkins as two years ago. In Waitrose alone they’ve sold, terrifyingly, 676% more large pumpkins than last year.
Now before I try even harder to inject rubbish Halloween adjectives into the remainder of this Conversation, how do you feel about the growth of this festival? For some retailers it’s their third biggest money-spinning event on the calendar, only behind Christmas and Easter.
Are we approaching a time when we’ll build-up to Halloween over weeks, rather than days? Is Guy Fawkes and bonfire night being suffocated by the consumerist Americanisation of October 31st? Are retailers ramming it down our throats whether we like it or not? I don’t have the answers, but I am looking forward to my horrifying Halloween house party.