Share Letter:

Happy Halloween 2023, so far!

October 31, 2023 | Letters

Author: Nicole Olynk Widmar, Interim Head and Professor, Purdue University, Department of Agricultural Economics

Happy Halloween 2023!  #Halloween has been a longstanding tradition here on Consumer Corner. In 2020, our focus shifted to celebrating safely amid the pandemic. Surprisingly, positivity surrounding Halloween in 2020 (given the lack of positivity in much of anything) was higher than 2019, with a sentiment of 81%. Despite the challenges, people embraced adaptations, giving rise to socially distanced trunk-or-treats!

Then, the 2021 story centered around attempts at a return to normalcy; gone were the top mentions of sickness and safety, welcomed back by “Happy Halloween” and scary costumes. For 2022, it was a “Happy Halloween” after all. Despite fears of expensive candy dampening the fun, the overall sentiment was high at 80%, with top discussions centered on Halloween fun rather than widespread chatter about associated costs.

Today is Halloween in 2023.  The net sentiment, or overall positivity about about Halloween, was at 74% as of 11:59 pm EST last night and and rose to 78% as of 9:00 am EST today. Apparently, we’re getting collectively happier about Halloween on Halloween – a unique phenomenon not always observed with other holidays, but Halloween isn’t like other holidays either. It doesn’t often involve travel or multiple days locked in your home with triple the family members usually living in said home, “Christmas Vacation” style. Unlike other holidays we’ve studied in social and online media, like Friendsgiving, which see a lot of discussion leading up to the event, Halloween garners the highest online and social media mentions on the actual day.  And, we seem to like it even more when it’s here compared to the anticipation leading up to it.

The three graphs displayed show the total online and social media mentions as of October 30, 2023, at 11:59 PM EST. The trend in volume of mentions for Halloween overall is clear, with a significant run up happening as Halloween approaches. Interestingly, we do discuss Halloween the first week of October, but we then largely lose steam until the end of the month.

Mentions of “treats” follow nearly the same pattern as Halloween overall.  However, there is a distinctly different pattern displayed in the volume of mentions for the word “trunk.”  Trunk or treats seemed to gain more notoriety and greater adoption during the adaptation phase for holidays in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mentions of “trunk” are far fewer than “treat” in total volume of online and social media, but the timing of discussions differs from other conversations about Halloween. Mentions of “trunk” first spiked notable mid-month before falling back and then increasing again the weekend before Halloween day. While mentions of “treats” in total don’t increase notably until actual Halloween day approaches, trunk-or-treats, it seems, are fun for weeks ahead of time. 

Now, treats are mentioned in reference to various things, including trunk-or-treats (I mean, it is right there in the name!), but the pattern of mentions for trunk-or-treats is still potentially notable. It seems, perhaps, that we are trunk-or-treating on October 14 with glee. Much like Friendsgiving has become the all-month-long version of Thanksgiving gatherings, is the car trunk our new excuse for sugary weeks-long extravaganza around which we extend our Halloween fun?