CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kenedi Moss, with the help of mom, Susan Moss, was transformed into a princess on Thursday at Savers. Consumers are expected to spend more than $5 billion on Halloween this year.
Scary business: Some Hawaii retailers say Halloween is biggest sales holiday
For some retailers in Hawaii, it's really Halloween that is the most wonderful time of the year.
"Halloween is our Christmas," said Veronica Mokunui, floor manager for Party City in Waikele. "This is what makes or breaks us. It's extremely busy, and we love it."
The store, open in Waikele since 1995, stocks itself with costumes, accessories and all the decorative items needed to create a haunted house by August.
Mokunui says some of the most popular costume items for kids this year include Disney princesses, Hannah Montana, Spiderman, Superman, Optimus Prime and Harry Potter. For adults, there are baseball players, Marie Antoinette and Playboy costumes.
For pets, there are hot dog, Yoda and Darth Vader costumes.
Party City stocked itself well this year, said Mokunui, and expects last-minute customers to be rolling in even on Halloween Day, when the store keeps its doors open.
Consumers are expected to spend more than $5 billion on Halloween this year -- up from last year, according to the National Retail Federation, which polled 8,877 consumers during a week in September. The average person plans to spend $64.82 on the holiday compared to $59.06 last year.
The pet owner is an emerging consumer for Halloween -- with an estimated 11 percent, or 7.4 million households, planning to put their pets in a costume this year, according to NRF.
For Savers, a for-profit thrift store, Halloween -- not Christmas -- will be the biggest sales boost for the year.
"Halloween is, for the thrift industry, our No. 1 season," said Anita Carey, Savers store manager in Kalihi. "It's the one time of the year that people who normally wouldn't shop in a thrift store come in, and realize there are a lot of treasures to be found here. That's kind of the hook."
Likewise, thrift stores run by nonprofits, Goodwill and Salvation Army, get a boost in sales for Halloween.
Savers, with two locations on Oahu and one on Maui, purchases its goods regularly from three charities -- the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, United Cerebral Palsy of Hawaii and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
The Christmas holiday season does not result in as big of a boost as Halloween, said Carey, because most shoppers want to buy brand-new items as gifts.
One-third of adults will dress in costume this year, according to the NRF -- and nearly everyone wants to be sexy.
Shelley Rose, owner of Sensually Yours, expects a 30 percent boost in sales during Halloween this year, ranking it close to Valentine's Day and Christmas.
"Halloween is getting better every year," she said.
She says a sexy bee costume and Marie Antoinette are very popular this year. Classic favorites -- the sexy schoolgirl and sexy nurse, have also been a hit, along with pirates.
"The bees have been flying out the door," she said.
Halloween revelers can rent a complete Darth Vader, Chewbacca or Yoda set, along with Reno 911's Lt. Dangle at Costume Closet, according to sales associate Laura Ferreri for $100 and up. Women can also find Medieval gowns and Playboy-branded costumes.
Those who want a custom-designed, vintage costume can also commission one from the Studio of Roy Venters in the Chinatown arts district. Venters rents and sells unique, handmade costumes.
Kharolina of Kharolina Designs in Kaimuki, says Halloween is the only time of the year she holds regular store hours -- from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
"Halloween is my biggest time of year," said Kharolina, who goes by only one name.
She has vintage costumes, period costumes, along with elaborate headpieces and masks that she makes herself. Rentals range from $35 to $250. She expects rentals to continue this weekend, when she expects most Halloween parties will be held.
"I've got original, one-of-a-kind stuff," she said, "I've got stuff that wins costume contests."
National Retail Federation 2007 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey
Total U.S. spending: $5.07 billion*
Ave. Halloween spending: $64.82 per person
Ave. costume spending: $23.33 per person
Highest-spending category: Ages 18-24
Percent of adults in costume: 33.8 percent
Percent of pets in costume: 11 percent or 7.4 million households
Top costumes: Princess, Spider-Man, pirate, witch, fairy, Disney's Hannah Montana, Harry Potter.
* Based on BIGresearch poll of 8,877 consumers between Sept. 4 to 11