|NY-based Abracadabra crowned this Martha costume as the 2004 Halloween Queen.(Price:$85)
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Action, glamour and politics. That's the thematic recipe retailers are using to cook up "frightful" fashions for the neighborhood candy mongers on Halloween.
"Current movies and events always play a big part in people's choices. No question, Spider-Man will be a hands-down favorite with boys again this year," said Lisa Laube, chief merchandising officer of party goods seller Party City.
For girls, the most popular costumes are still the perennial favorites, such as Barbie and Cinderella.
Also big this election year are political themed costumes, according to Jalem Getz, president and CEO of Buyseasons Inc., parent company of BuyCostumes.com.
While George Bush and John Kerry masks are selling like hot cakes, Halloween revelers are also keen to don "The Donald," as in real estate mogul Donald Trump.
NY-based costume retailer Abracadabra, meanwhile, has crowned its costume, "Martha Stewart as the wicked witch in prison," as the 2004 Halloween Queen.
Other standouts are pirate-theme costumes for both men and women, and Catwoman and Scooby-Doo characters for kids and adults.
More treat than tricks for retailers
It's no secret that both consumers and merchants love Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Halloween is the seventh-biggest sales event for merchants and the second-largest decorating occasion behind the winter holidays.
Industry watchers expect retailers will get more treats than tricks this year. That's welcome news given the disappointing back-to-school season and sluggish summer sales overall.
The NRF expects total Halloween spending in 2004 to grow to about $3.12 billion, up from $2.96 billion the year before.
"Halloween will be a slam-dunk for merchants despite the weakening consumer spending trends," said Richard Hastings, senior retail analyst with Bernard Sands.
"The holiday is clearly growing in importance for the industry. Halloween is fun, enjoyable and doesn't require a big investment to celebrate," Hastings said. "The primary focus is the child and families typically do all they can to make sure the children have fun."
Halloween happens to be the biggest sales event for Party City (Research), accounting for 25 percent of the $516 million total annual sales for the New Jersey-based company that has more than 500 company-owned and franchised stores nationwide.
Online costume retailer BuyCostumes.com is also anticipating a busier than usual season. The company claims to have the largest selection of costumes on the Internet, with over 10,000 different styles for customers to choose from.
"Our sales year-to-date have already doubled over last year and we're getting well over 1 million visitors a week as we get closer to Halloween," said Buyseasons' Getz, who didn't disclose specific sales figures.
Discounters such as Wal-Mart, (Research) Target (Research), Kmart (Research) and the dollar store chains should see the majority of traffic and profit well from Halloween, he added.
Besides the usual costumes and ghoulish inflatable yard decorations, Wal-Mart is also offering customers a personalized Halloween witch and ghost basket for kids to tote treats and stash their snacks.
Kmart's online Halloween shop includes costumes and decorations, as well as safety gear such a flash light and two-way radios to kids to take along for the night-time neighborhood candy rounds.