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How Are Young Consumers Celebrating Halloween This Year?

With another pandemic Halloween approaching, we took a look at young consumers’ plans for this year compared to previous years…


Despite COVID, young consumers didn’t cancel Halloween last year. We told you how young people got creative and celebrated the holiday from home, and brands were putting candy out earlier than ever before, encouraging quarantined young consumers to “treat themselves,” and coming up with ideas for haunted drive-thrus and car washes. But what will the holiday look like in 2021? With the Delta variant and surging COVID cases, it’s likely that families and young people might still have concerns about what’s safe to do during spooky season this year. While former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced this week that vaccines for children under the age of 12 could potentially be available by Halloween, experts are weighing in on some of the risks of fall gatherings.

But there are clear signs that despite fears young people will once again find ways to celebrate.  Young consumers are already sharing their excitement for #pumpkinseason on TikTok, while #spooktember is already trending on the Discover page. Brands like Ferraro and Hershey’s began releasing Halloween-themed candy in the summer. YPulse’s recent survey on Halloween plans found that 13-39-year-olds are planning to celebrate in many of the same ways they did last year, and some things haven’t changed from pre-pandemic times:

Looking at 2021 and compared to previous years, Halloween hasn’t quite returned to how it was pre-pandemic. But certain mainstay plans have stayed steady between 2019 and 2021. For instance, plans for activities like hanging out with family, trick-or-treating with friends, and even visiting haunted houses have stayed about the same. The number of Millennial parents who say they’ll be bringing their kids trick-or-treating has actually increased, from 34% in 2020 to 42% this year.

But of course, COVID’s impacts are apparent: hanging out with friends, hosting / attending parties has decreased significantly from 2019 to 2020 and 2021, as did dressing up in costume. Those decreases go hand-in-hand: with fewer events to attend, young people aren’t as likely to dress up. However, nearly the same number are planning to do these things as did in 2020, which means that retailers can likely expect this holiday to look fairly similar to last year. That includes spending, and young consumers estimate spending $259 on Halloween in 2021, roughly the same amount that they estimated spending last year. 

That said, a few plans have seen decreases between 2020 and 2021. Fewer young people are planning to watch scary movies, carve pumpkins, and decorate than did last year. The number who say they plan to take photos to post on social media has also decreased. But plans for pumpkin carving and decorating saw major bumps last year as young people attempted to make a pandemic holiday more special, and this year their plans are settling back to normal. But brands should be aware that Gen Z and Millennials are wary their plans might have to change:

When we asked young people if their Halloween plans will be affected by recent COVID variants, the majority say “yes” or “maybe.” Gen Z is more hopeful that their plans will go on unchanged: More than half (51%) of 13-20-year-olds responded with “maybe” compared to 38% of 21-39-year-olds. But it’s clear that COVID is keeping plans for the upcoming season uncertain, something that could also be true of the winter holidays. Excitement about Halloween is clear, and if possible young people will keep celebrating and keep traditions going. But brands should also be prepared to help consumers find ways to celebrate at home again. 

YPulse Business users can access the full Halloween behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.