Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween today. That means a few things are certain: (1) Costumed children (2) Lots of candy (3) Election Day looms ahead  -- finally!  (4) The end of the year draws near.

Once we hit the end of October, it really feels like the end of the year is just around the corner. On Sunday, we'll be turning the clocks back an hour. Before we know it, we'll find ourselves working on holiday shopping lists and itineraries. 

Halloween falls on a Monday this year, which seems rather odd, doesn't it? Many people opted to attend Halloween parties over the weekend in lieu of trick-or-treating on a school night.

I see Halloween as officially kicking off the holiday season. You'll notice that many retailers have been stocking their shelves not only with Halloween merchandise, but Christmas ornaments and decorations as well. Their strategy is obvious: Market all the holidays in one fell swoop. 

To be sure, it's a smart move on the part of these merchants, as it affords them more time to get rid of their holiday inventory.

Still, some consumers are perpetual procrastinators: They couldn't bring themselves to shop early if their lives depended on it -- even if it means missing out on big sales. They're the ones who typically shop for decorations and supplies a few days before the occasion in question. 

I usually try buying stuff as much in advance of the holiday as I can. Not only do I save money this way, but it keeps me away from the ever-so-aggravating long lines and big crowds.

Going back to Halloween, here's an interesting nugget of information: According to the National Confectioners Association, 75 percent of Americans buy candy for their households, and over 70 percent of parents share in their children's candy collection -- with or without their knowledge. 

This year, Halloween candy sales are projected to rise to $3.8 billion -- an increase of 5.5 percent. Evidently, people are spending more on Halloween candy thanks to lower gasoline prices, higher wages, and steady unemployment. 

That being said, I'm sure analysts are bullish on holiday spending in the months to come. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

I'd like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

Will you be doing anything for Halloween tonight? Does October 31 bring the end of the year to mind?

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