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Retailers target grown-up goblins for Halloween

picture strip October 30, 1997
Web posted at: 9:51 p.m. EST (0251 GMT)

(CNN) -- Look out kids. Halloween is being taken over by your parents and their friends.

For many children, Halloween is heaven. But retailers are noticing that some adults are getting just as excited about the scary season.

vxtreme CNN's Anne McDermott reports.

Halloween produces the second-largest holiday-related sales, behind only the Christmas season. Consumers are expected to spend more than $2.5 billion this year on Halloween-themed products, from traditional candy and costumes to beer parties and Count Chocula cereal sales.

While chocolate candy miniature sales rise 200 percent in the period, it's not just the sweet tooth that adults will indulge on Halloween.

In recent years, retailers and food companies have been pitching the holiday as a monthlong excuse for a party for adults. Their strategy is working: Halloween is now second only to New Year's Eve in the number of parties thrown, according to industry experts.

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, police estimate that up to 25,000 costumed college students descend on the city for festivities that mushroomed from a simple hometown observance four years ago.

The Halloween marketing charm also works for the pizza business. Capitalizing on its scary-sounding name to boost sales, Tombstone Pizza, a division of Kraft Foods, saw its sales go up 32 percent last year in the last week of October, according to research company A.C. Nielsen.

People are spending big bucks for these Halloween gadgets and decorations.
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"What we found was actually happening was a change in the way people are celebrating Halloween," said Marla Stempler, Tombstone's senior brand manager. "We've seen a simultaneous decline in traditional 'trick-or-treating' and an increase in decorating, dressing up and hosting parties."

Consumer analysts say the change comes from baby boomers' nostalgia for their youth.

"People are very busy nowadays with jobs, careers, families, and one way for them to have a good escape and stay kids for a while is Halloween," said Dr. Audrey Guskey, professor of marketing at DuQuesne University in Pittsburgh.

Correspondent Anne McDermott and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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