Pet Halloween Costumes As Big As 31 Million People Plan To Dress Up Dogs And Cats

Lisa Wegman's dog, Maddie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, wears a PetSmart mermaid costume.

Americans will likely spend $ 9 billion on Halloween this year, nearly tying last year’s record, according to the National Retail Federation. With these expenses, people find new vacation-themed items to buy – which retailers are eager to sell.

A rapidly growing trend is to dress animals like other animals. Or like vegetables, or fictional characters: Halloween pet costumes.

Bernie the dog is spending Halloween 2018 as a teddy bear.  It is owned by Abbie Hudgens, a groomer at PetSmart.

“Halloween costumes are selling very well, actually,” said Lisa Wegman, associate key manager at PetSmart at University Commons.

PetSmart itself held a costume contest in mid-October, but many customers purchased animal outfits for the Howl-O-Ween Pooch and Pet Expo parade, which was held on October 21 in the nearby University of Tennessee gardens, she said.

The role of millennials

More than 31 million Americans plan to dress their pets, and the owners most likely to do so are millennials, according to Philip Rist, executive vice president of Prosper Insights & Analytics. On behalf of the NRF, Prosper surveyed nearly 7,000 people in September about their holiday shopping plans.

Nearly 20% of the 175 million Americans celebrating Halloween will dress their pets, an increase from 16% last year, according to a press release from Prosper.

This is the most in the history of the NRF’s Halloween Investigations, Rist said in the ad.

Lisa Wegman of PetSmart shows off a teddy bear costume, alongside the display of other pet Halloween outfits.

In an age of elaborate cosplay for humans, basic pet costumes aren’t very expensive. At PetSmart, butterfly wings and little cowboy hats cost $ 9.97, while full costumes range from $ 16.99 to $ 18.99. But those are already discounted prices: The costumes arrived on August 12 and went on sale a few weeks before Halloween, Wegman said.

There’s always a display of hats, wings, necklaces, and full outfits near the front of the store – near displays of other pet clothing, including orange UT gear – but PetSmart has condensed it. its Halloween section on October 22 to make room for the arrival of Christmas items, manager Tanner Bradford said.

Dressed as a hot dog, Japhy the dog waits with owners Melissa Flood, center, and Lee Flood, right, for their turn to be judged during the Howl-O-Ween Pooch Parade at UT Gardens in Knoxville on October 23, 2016.

What is hot

Pope Pug II, also known as Whiskey, shows off his Best in Show award-winning costume during the Howl-O-Ween Pooch parade at UT Gardens in Knoxville on October 23, 2016.

Furry teddy bear outfits are popular this year, but it’s new, Wegman said.

“The hot costume is always, always a pumpkin,” she said.

Wegman is right, according to the NRF. Investigators found that 11.2 percent of pet costume buyers planned to dress their animals up as pumpkins, making it the most popular pet costume on the market. The next nine most popular types are:

  • 7.4%: hot dog;
  • 4.9%: bumblebee;
  • 3.2%: devil;
  • 3.1%: cat;
  • 3.1%: dog;
  • 2.1%: lion;
  • 2.8%: “Star Wars” character;
  • 2.7%: superheroes;
  • 2.5 percent: ghost.

This is generally confirmed at Pet Supplies Plus in Kingston Pike, according to shift supervisor Emily Rogers. Shark, banana, and taco costumes went first, but pumpkin, hot dog, lobster, and superhero costumes also evolved well, she said. On the shelf near the door, a hot dog costume was left, hidden behind a banana.

Emily Rogers of Pet Supplies Plus has one of the animal costumes available for Halloween.

“People seem to be buying the ‘Star Wars’ stuff more often than last year,” Rogers said. Pet Supplies Plus still had Yoda ears available but was exhausted by Chewbacca outfits.

At Paws Pet Supply and Grooming in Powell, costumes that make the pet appear to be wearing something or riding were popular, owner Tracy Gardner said. Contrary to the national trend, sharks and hot dogs weren’t popular this year in Powell, she said. But her store didn’t have a lot of them – only 15 or 20 costumes, now three.

“As soon as you put them on the shelf, they’re, like, gone,” Gardner said. “We took them out on October 1 and they were gone in two weeks. “

Tucker the Dog models UT gear for Halloween at PetSmart.  It is owned by PetSmart employee Lisa Wegman.

Numbers game

Halloween spending lags far behind Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Valentine’s Day – even behind graduation gifts (but before the Super Bowl holidays), according to the survey by the NRF. Although dollar totals continue to rise, the ranking has not changed for at least a few years.

“The economy is good and consumer confidence is high, so families are ready to spend on Halloween this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release.

Buyers plan to spend an average of $ 86.79 on Halloween products, according to the survey. Ninety-five percent of them will buy candy, 74 percent will buy decorations, 68 percent will spend on costumes and 35 percent plan to buy Halloween greeting cards, according to the survey.

Ruby, a pit bull terrier owned by Jordan Hatcher, wears a PetSmart pumpkin outfit.

That’s $ 2.6 billion in candy, $ 2.7 billion in decorations, $ 3.2 billion in costumes, and $ 400 million in greeting cards.

Now is the time to shop for pet costumes because they are already branded, Rogers said. Most at Pet Supplies Plus are now at $ 13.98 instead of $ 24.88. The licensed character costumes aren’t that much discounted, but they’re still on sale, she said.

“Right now they’re about as low as they’ll be because it’s almost Halloween,” Rogers said.

At Paws Pet Supply and Grooming, Gardner’s costumes have gone from $ 9.99 to $ 29.99, she said.

But why?

This year's most popular pet costume is a pumpkin, shown by Lisa Wegman at PetSmart.

Many pet owners who dress themselves for Halloween will also get costumes for their pets, Gardner said. More often, it will be younger people who own small dogs, she said.

Some costume purchases are impulse purchases, but most owners plan to bring their pets to make sure they get the right size, Bradford said. Even those who don’t often know what size their animals need, then they get it right the first time, he said.

“We haven’t seen a lot of comebacks or anything of that nature,” Bradford said.

Pretty much anything that’s available locally will be aimed just at dogs, or maybe cats, Wegman said, but Bradford said PetSmarts in big cities has a range for other small mammals.

“Our larger stores even have costumes tailored for guinea pigs,” Bradford said.

Pet Supplies Plus offers costumes “for most dogs,” with just a few for cats, like a witch hat and collar, Rogers said. She bought her own cat a donut costume last year, but the cat immediately tried to take it off, she said.

Rogers worked at Pet Supplies Plus in Maryville, which dealt almost exclusively with small dogs. The Kingston Pike store gets more for large dogs – although there isn’t too much stock for them either, she said.

Kami Wilkins and his three-headed Australian Shepherd named Jake turned a lot of heads during the Howl-O-Ween Pet Parade and Show at UT Gardens on October 21, 2018.

“We tend to sell large dog clothes in general early on,” Rogers said. The store had to order larger sizes of UT dog clothes, she said.

Overall, however, the majority of dogs in Halloween costumes will be smaller dogs, Rogers said.

Wegman said she believed the rationale for the pet costumes was divided between sleight of hand in association with children – matching or completing the children’s costumes – and attending events of Halloween and costume contests.

Rogers said a few customers told him they just wanted to take pictures of their pet in a costume. But his own Chihuahua-beagle mix will be dressed like a lobster or a hot dog when Rogers hands out candy to treat treats. Even the brief pleasure is worth the price for a lot of people, she said.

“It’s still the fun and gadget stuff,” Rogers said. “You can take a picture and post it on Instagram and say, ‘Hey, look, my dog ​​is a lobster.’ “