Is Halloween the New Christmas?

ByABC News via GMA logo
October 31, 2006, 6:14 AM

Oct. 31, 2006 — -- Halloween is no longer just about costumes and candy.

It's now the second-biggest decorating holiday of the year -- right behind Christmas.

For Tony Bianchi, that means October is by far the busiest month of the year.

The co-owner of Halloween Adventure, a chain of Halloween superstores, hired an additional 65 workers at his flagship store in downtown New York City to handle the increase in Halloween sales.

Why the growing popularity? Bianchi says for one, it's all about you.

"Mother's Day, you're giving gifts. Christmas, you're giving gifts. Here, you're giving gifts to yourself," he said.

His shoppers seem to agree.

One told ABC's David Muir, "I'm pretty intense when it comes to Halloween. It's just my favorite holiday."

Bianchi's been in the Halloween business for 20 years, operating three permanent stores.

Every year, he also opens satellite stores -- this year, 100 of them.

Major retailers are putting out their Halloween-related merchandise earlier than ever.

Wal-Mart rolled out its Halloween section, "Spooky Central," located in its garden centers, in mid-August.

Over Labor Day weekend, Target introduced its "Harvest Hollow," "Maple Manor" and "Creepy Cottage" collections, among others.

Even home-improvement retailers are getting in on the act, with Home Depot adding Halloween decorations to its stores for the first time this year.

The boom in Halloween business is a trend analysts are seeing across the country.

"Halloween spending is expected to grow to 5 billion this year. That's up from about 3.3 billion last year," said Scott Krugman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation.

The average Halloween consumer will spend roughly $60 this year, as compared to $48 last year.

So what costumes have been big sellers this year?

Bianchi says thanks to last summer's "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel, his customers can't get enough of pirate get-ups.

"This is the year of the pirates. It's been extraordinary. We can't keep Jack Sparrow in the store. He just flies out," he said.