Halloween Brings Businesses Billions - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Halloween Brings Businesses Billions

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MISSOULA -

People are starting to crowd stores, looking for Halloween costumes and decorations, and retailers aren't complaining. Numbers from the National Retail Federation show Americans are expected to spend almost $7 billion this Halloween.

16 year-old Jake Laskin works to build his own sets, buys props, and sets up the lighting and sound for his Haunted Hallway every year since he was about 10-years-old. He will have put a few hundred hours of his spare time into giving Missoulians a scare when he's done putting together his hallway for Halloween.

"All the walls have to be built, all the walls have to be hung, some are hung from the ceiling, some are put on two by fours, then after that its all about setting up the special effects," Laskin said.

As Halloween attractions like Laskin's Haunted Hallway get bigger and more popular, people are putting more money and time into Halloween, and retail stores are noticing.

"Halloween is definitely growing and more people are getting involved in Halloween," said Spirit Store owner Melanie Lerum.

"This Halloween they're having parties the night before, they're doing something on Halloween, they're doing the weekend after and they're doing day of the dead, so it's become a week long celebration," Lerum said.

A survey by the National Retail Federation shows Americans are expected to spend $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes. Total spending, including candy and decorations, is expected to reach $6.9 billion.

This is down from a survey high of $8 billion last year, still spirit store owner Melanie Lerum said that's nothing for retailers to get spooked about.

"People are spending about $330 million on pet costumes alone," Lerum said.

The survey shows this Halloween will be far from a bust, with average spending going up 55% from 2005, and slightly higher spending forecast than 2011.

For anyone who has caught that Halloween buzz, Jake is having two separate showings of the Haunted Hallway. One is on October 27 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the other is on October 31 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The address is 4823 Scott Allen Dr. in Missoula.

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