Jeff Wirick poses for a portrait outside  the haunted house he constructs each year  in Harrison Township.

Jeff Wirick poses for a portrait outside the haunted house he constructs each year in Harrison Township.

Photo by Brian Wells

People continue to go big on their Halloween décor

Halloween spending could reach $10.6B this year

By: Brian Wells | Metro | Published September 30, 2022


METRO DETROIT — On a chilly fall day, Jeff Wirick walked through a wooden castle that had been erected in his driveway, weaving around statues and figures modeled to look like scary figures and icons from horror movies.

By the end of the week, Wirick expected to have walls erected to form a path for visitors, leading them through a haunted house.

“I love scaring people. I get a big kick out of scaring people,” Wirick said. “They seem to like it. They always have a good time.”

Wirick’s haunted house — which can be found on Facebook as Wirick’s Wicked Waterfront Castle — started seven years ago, when he decorated the inside of his van at a trunk-or-treat event. Now, the haunted house takes visitors through several rooms constructed inside the castle, his garage and the yard outside his Harrison Township home.

Besides statues, noises and flashing lights, Wirick is joined by some of his friends and relatives who act as live actors to scare people.

“It’s cool because my nephew, kids, they’re little kids and they came last year and they got to hide in some of the rooms and scare people,” he said. “I can’t wait for it to start again; they got a big kick out of it.”

For the first two weeks of October, Wirick’s haunted house is open for tours from dusk until 10 p.m. on weekends. But the two weeks leading up to Halloween, tours can be taken from dusk until 10 p.m. any day of the week, depending on the weather.

At the haunted house, donations are also collected for JDRF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that funds Type-1 diabetes research.

In recent years, Wirick hasn’t been the only one to catch an itch for Halloween decorating.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, participation in Halloween-related activities is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

The study shows that 69% of consumers are planning to celebrate Halloween this year, which is up from 65% in 2021 and 28% in 2019. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $10.6 billion this year, which is up from last year’s $10.1 billion.

“Halloween is an exciting time for many families, and that enthusiasm is reflected in the number of Americans who plan to celebrate the holiday this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “As consumers continue to return to pre-pandemic behaviors, retailers are prepared to meet that demand and help make this holiday a fun and memorable one.

The study found that, of the people planning to participate:

• 67% plan to hand out candy.

• 51% plan to decorate their home or yard.

• 47% plan to dress in a costume.

• 44% will carve pumpkins.

• 28% will throw or attend a Halloween party.

• One in five plans to dress up a pet.

Additionally, consumers plan to spend $100 on average for candy, decor, cards and costumes, which is close to last year’s record of $103, the study shows.

On a local level, Anne Duffey-Leo, who owns Duffey & Co. in Grosse Pointe Park, said she’s also seen an increase in the number of Halloween-related items her store sells. But unlike some of the bigger stores, hers focuses more on smaller, artisan-crafted items, such as fall wreaths, ornaments, candle molds and spell candles.

“I think, overall, people love Halloween decor from all of the stores,” she said. “And I think people are having a lot of fun with the whole season in a bigger way than what was traditionally done.”

Duffey-Leo attributes some of the increase in sales to people becoming more comfortable exploring what she calls the veil between different spiritual realms.

“We’re kind of coming into an age where people are recognizing or feeling more comfortable in kind of the metaphysical and the spiritual. … It’s a chance for our curiosities to have fun with the thinning of the veil at this time of year,” she said.