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When is the best time to shop for Halloween?

What's scarier—the costumes or the cost?

When’s the best time to shop for Halloween? Credit: tacojim / Getty Images

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Every year, it seems that Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy start flooding stores earlier and earlier. Either retailers are really pushing for us to start shopping or we’re all just tired of the summer heat and are desperately looking forward to fall.

If you tend to spend on Halloween every year, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation (NFR) estimated that Americans would shell out a whopping $10.14 billion on spooky décor, creepy costumes, and festive candy in 2021, an "all-time high" increase from the $8.05 billion that was spent in 2020. Though we're still waiting on 2022's total, it looks like we won’t be cutting back on the spooky festivities any time soon.

According to last year's NFR data, people get a major head start on Halloween, planning costumes and searching for decorations as early as the first week of September. Despite an early start, Halloween can get expensive between the candy, the costumes, and the décor, especially if you tend to go all out. That's why it's no surprise that the NFR found that discount stores are where most people do their Halloween shopping (we all like to save!). Between that and planning way in advance, here are a few ways to keep your Halloween as festive as possible while cutting your costs.

When are the best Halloween sales?

Halloween Candy Pumpkins
Credit: mantacam / Getty Images

Stores are already flooded with Halloween decorations.

It makes sense that the best Halloween sales happen the day after the holiday is over—this is true for every major holiday. With Halloween falling so close to the winter holidays, retailers need to make room in their inventory for the much larger holiday season. They start to discount everything they have, from costumes and décor to other holiday-themed products in the final days leading up to the holiday, then drop prices even further in the days that follow.

While this doesn't really help you out for this year's celebrations, you can still be prepared for Halloween 2023 (Talk about an early start!). According to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch, retailers will typically offer discounts from 50% to 80% on holiday merchandise. You can also expect to see costumes up to 80% off if you shop after October 15. With a little planning and time management, this is a great way to get loads of timeless decorations, party favors, costumes, and more for 2022 and beyond. Plus, you can snag pretty good deals on candy for yourself after the trick-or-treaters clean you out.

The downside is that waiting for these sales can increase the risk of not finding what you want, which is especially risky for costumes. But there are still a few ways to save on costumes and decorations.

How to save before Halloween

Sadeugra / Getty Images
Credit: Sadeugra / Getty Images

Make your own decorations and costumes to save money this Halloween.

Point blank, the easiest way to save money on Halloween costumes and decorations is to do it yourself. It may take some time, a little more work and effort, and you may have to start earlier than most, but it's a good method that'll let you save more than purchasing a costume you’re only going to wear once. This way, you're guaranteed to have one-of-a-kind decorations, you don't risk ending up with the exact same costume as someone else, and it makes a great project to do with kids.

Craft stores like Michaels sell countless supplies for making home décor, party favors, handcrafting costumes, and more. On Etsy, you can find loads of unique, handmade costume pieces, décor, and accessories that differ from mass-produced items. If done right, shopping strategically on Etsy can be cheaper than buying a pre-made costume from Party City.

But if you don’t have the time or the desire to craft your own decorations, check out stores with notoriously low prices on seasonal items like the Christmas Tree Shops and Home Goods. And hit up big big box retailers like Walmart and Target closer to the holiday itself to raid the clearance shelves of whatever's left that catches your eye.

Halloween Thrift Shopping
Credit: Orbon Alija / Getty Images

You can find slightly used costumes and accessories at your local thrift store.

When it comes to putting together a costume for less, head to your neighborhood Goodwill or any thrift store to look for clothing and accessories that work with your costume. Get what you can for your costume so you have more to spend on focal pieces like a good mask, a quality wig, face makeup, and accessories.

All in all, when it comes to Halloween shopping, it's all about time management: the earlier you start, the better, and if you're right in the thick of it, it's best to wait until retailers start discounting their Halloween merch to get the best deal. Mark your calendars and get to shopping!