This Year’s Most Popular Halloween Costumes

24/7 Wall St.

Americans will spend as much as $2.6 billion on their Halloween costumes this year, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. The NRF reports that $1.2 billion of that will be for children’s costumes, $1.4 billion for adults and another $330 million for pets.

Americans will be opting for more traditional costumes this year, the NRF predicts. The most popular costumes include vampires, princesses and witches. In all, more than 158 million people are expected to wear a costume. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed this year’s most popular Halloween costumes.

With only a few exceptions, the most popular costumes this year have been Halloween staples for decades. For example, witches, animals, superheroes and princesses all made the top 10 overall.

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Other costumes on the list also have been popular for a long time, but may have received a recent boost from recent attention in pop culture. For example, in 2012 zombies were the ninth most popular costume for children, and the fifth most popular for adults. This year, they are seventh among children and fourth among adults. The NRF estimates the number of people masquerading as the dead should increase by more than a quarter million this Halloween.

Marvel, DC Comics and the companies that produce superhero costumes also will have another big year. An estimated 4.1% of all people dressing up for Halloween said they planned to wear an action hero or superhero costume, the fourth most popular answer. And that is only among those who did not specify which hero they were going to be. Batman characters were the second most popular choice. Other Halloween favorites include Superman and Spider-Man.

Halloween has always been considered a holiday for children. This year, however, according to the survey, there actually will be more adults wearing costumes. While adults and children share several of the same top costumes, there are notable exceptions. For example, princesses, by far the most popular costume for children, are only tied for 17th for adults. Vampires, the third most popular costumes for adults, are 13th for children.

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To identify this year’s most popular Halloween costumes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Halloween Consumer Spending Survey. The results are based on the number of adults and children who knew what they were going to be, with a million adults still undecided at the time of the survey.

These are this year's most popular Halloween costumes.


10. Spider-Man
> Pct. wearing: 1.8%
> Number wearing: 1,824,615
> Pct. worn by children: 3.9% (5th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: n/a

Spider-Man costumes are especially popular among children, with 3.9% of kids expected to dress up as the Marvel character on Halloween. The costume is far less popular among adults, failing to crack the top 20 list, despite ranking fifth among all children’s costumes. Spider-Man was even more popular among children last year, when it ranked third. The Spider-Man brand is truly massive: 2012’s "The Amazing Spider-Man: grossed over $750 million worldwide.

9. Superman
> Pct. wearing: 2.3%
> Number wearing: 2,313,095
> Pct. worn by children: 2.6% (9th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 2.1% (7th most)

Superman was not on the radar for many kids last year, failing to crack the top 10 list for children. This year, the caped superhero is expected to be a top pick among both kids and adults, following the release of "Man of Steel," which grossed more than $660 million worldwide and over $291 million in the United States. A search for “Superman costumes” on Amazon.com returns more than 5,000 results, including costumes, muscle chest padding and capes.

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8. Animal
> Pct. wearing: 2.8%
> Number wearing: 2,819,860
> Pct. worn by children: 6.1% (2nd most)
> Pct. worn by adults: n/a

Animal costumes are among the most popular for kids, with more than 6% -- the second highest percentage -- of children planning to dress as one for Halloween. A search on Amazon.com for “animal costumes” returned more than 1,000 results just for kids and babies, and included leopard, monkey, giraffe and shark outfits -- just to name a few. A broader search for “animal costumes” returned over 23,000 results. Animals were a less popular choice among adults and were not among their top costumes. However, cats, which are broken out separately, are expected to be one of the most popular costumes among adults.

7. Pirate
> Pct. wearing: 3.1%
> Number wearing: 3,093,210
> Pct. worn by children: 2.2% (11th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 3.8% (5th most)

Pirate costumes are more popular among adults than they are among children, although the number of adults choosing to be the eye patch-wearing buccaneers this year has fallen to 3.1% from 4.6% in 2012. While pirates have been popular for some time, current interest may be in part due to the success of the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, with a fifth scheduled for release in 2016. The figure likely will endure as a Halloween staple. A search on Amazon.com for “pirate costumes” yields more than 20,000 results.

6. Vampire
> Pct. wearing: 3.6%
> Number wearing: 3,626,883
> Pct. worn by children: 2.0% (12th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 5.0% (3rd most)

Among adults, the vampire is about as popular a choice this year as it was last year -- 5.0% and 5.2% of adults became vampires in 2013 and 2012, respectively. One explanation for America’s obsession with the glamorous undead could be the immense success of the Twilight franchise, which is popular among both children and adults. The popularity of "True Blood," an HBO series airing since 2008, is another indicator of Americans’ interest in vampires, although the show is expected to conclude in 2014.

5. Zombie
> Pct. wearing: 3.9%
> Number wearing: 3,878,741
> Pct. worn by children: 3.3% (7th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 4.4% (4th most)

Zombies are expected to be one of the 10 most popular costumes among both children and adults and will account for nearly one in every 25 Halloween costumes. The zombie genre has been extremely popular in recent years, with "World War Z" having grossed more than $540 million worldwide and over $200 million in the United States. The recent season premiere of AMC’s ratings giant "The Walking Dead" brought in an impressive 16.1 million viewers. An Amazon.com search for “zombie costumes” returned nearly 7,500 results for outfits, fake blood and makeup.

4. Action Hero/Superhero
> Pct. wearing: 4.1%
> Number wearing: 4,091,163
> Pct. worn by children: 5.1% (4th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 3.2% (6th most)

Batman, Superman and Spider-Man are not the only superheroes who will inspire costumes this year. There is no shortage of options, many of which can be found in recent blockbuster hits. "The Avengers" was last year’s top movie, pulling in more than $620 million domestically, while earning over $1.5 billion worldwide. More children than adults are expected to disguise themselves as superheroes this year, at nearly 2.4 million and over 1.7 million, respectively.

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3. Princess
> Pct. wearing: 4.3%
> Number wearing: 4,349,793
> Pct. worn by children: 8.2% (the most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 1.0% (17th most)

Princess costumes are extremely popular among kids, with more than 8% of children intending to dress up as a princess for Halloween, the most of any disguise. Princess was the most popular costume for kids last year, as well, when it was chosen by nearly 10% of all children. But the costume’s appeal is hardly limited to kids. The NRF estimates more than half a million adults as well will dress as a princess this Halloween. The princess was also among the most popular selections for adults in 2012. Additionally, another 3.1% of children, nearly 1.5 million in total, are expected to dress as a Disney princess this year.

2. Batman Characters
> Pct. wearing: 5.4%
> Number wearing: 5,408,336
> Pct. worn by children: 5.4% (3rd most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 5.4% (2nd most)

Well over five million people are expected to wear a Batman character costume this year. Batman is one of the most popular comic book characters of all time. Additionally, according to a movie magazine Empire, Batman has “been exposed more on TV and in film than any other hero.” A search for “batman costumes” on Amazon.com returns nearly 15,000 results. The same percentage of adults and children, 5.4%, reported they selected a Batman character for this Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation, Batman is also among the most popular costumes for pets this year.

1. Witch
> Pct. wearing: 6.7%
> Number wearing: 6,717,045
> Pct. worn by children: 3.4% (6th most)
> Pct. worn by adults: 9.6% (the most)

Witch costumes are a perennial favorite on Halloween, and this October will be no different. Witches are expected to account for nearly 10% of all costumes worn by adults, slightly more than 5.1 million in all. Witch costumes also are expected to be popular with kids, with nearly 1.6 million of them putting on pointy hats and crooked noses. Online, consumers can buy a variety of witch outfits, with a Walmart.com search returning more than 8,700 results and an Amazon.com search turning up more than 15,000 results for costumes, as well as accessories like broomsticks and hats.

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