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When is the best time to shop for Halloween?

What's scarier? The costumes or just 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. I swear I started seeing ceramic pumpkins in the middle of August this year. Either retailers are really pushing for us to start shopping or we’re all just tired of the summer heat and desperately need some fall inspiration.

If you tend to spend a lot on Halloween every year, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation (NFR) predicts how much Americans spend on Halloween every year. Last year, they estimated Americans would shell out a whopping $9.1 billion on spooky decorations, creepy costumes, and festive candy in 2017. Although they have yet to announce the final tally from last year or their predictions for 2018, they did report that spending was around $8.6 billion in 2016. So it looks like the numbers are only going up and we won’t be cutting back on the spooky festivities any time soon.

Halloween can be very expensive between the candy, the costumes, and the decor, especially if you and your family tend to go all out, so it's not surprising that the NFR also found that discount stores are the places most people do their Halloween shopping (hey, we all like to save!). Between that and planning way in advance, there 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 holidays, retailers need to make room in their inventory for the much larger holiday season, so they start to discount everything from costumes and decor to candy and other holiday-themed products in the final days leading up to the holiday and drop prices even further in the days that follow.

While this doesn't really help you out this year, you can be prepared for Halloween 2019 by stocking up this year. A consumer spending expert told The Street that in the days after a holiday retailers will typically offer discounts from 50% to 80% on holiday merchandise. So you can get loads of timeless decorations, party favors, lights, costumes, and more for 2019 and beyond. Plus, you can get pretty good deals on candy for yourself after all those trick-or-treaters clean you out.

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.

The easiest way to save money on Halloween costumes and decorations is to it do it yourself. It may take some time, some inspiration, and a little more work, but you can definitely save way more than purchasing a costume you’re only going to wear once. This way you're guaranteed to have one-of-a-kind decorations and costumes, and it makes a great project to do with your kids.

Craft stores like Michaels have sell supplies for making home decor, party favors, costumes and more. You can also find loads of unique, handmade costumes, costume pieces, and other accessories and decor on Etsy. When done right, shopping piece by piece on Etsy can be cheaper than buying a whole, premade costume from Party City and it can look much better too.

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 and 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 other thrift store to look for clothing and accessories that work with your costume. Get whatever you can for your costume so you have more money to spend on focal pieces like a scary mask, a wig, face makeup, or accessories.