Sunday, November 1, 2015

Great Costume! You're fired!

The US economy is pretty scary right now, and we’re all watching our spending pretty closely. So what’s the one thing Americans are willing to shell out for in this economy? Costumes, decorations and entertainment designed to scare us even more.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $6.9 billion in 2015 for Halloween. To put that number into context, the same NRF survey found that Americans spent $3.3 billion as recently as 2012.

This biggest chunk of this money — $2.5 billion of it — will go to costumes. Of that total, a little more than $300 million will be spent on costumes for pets. We’ll also drop $2 billion on candy and just under that on decorations.

By contrast, the much larger holiday season spending category isn’t growing as quickly. We were projected to spend $447 billion celebrating Christmas 2015 and other end-of-year holidays last year, but that figure was a measly 2.3 percentage points higher than what we spent in 2014.

Current political and economic events generally put a crimp in our festive spirit. So what makes Halloween the exception?

Well, it appears that troubled times drive our zeal for escapism; romance-novel sales boomed during the last recession, just like extravagant musicals that were popular during the Depression. Add to that the fact that Halloween has undergone a shift from a sort of silly, kid- and candy-centric affair to a full-blown event for adults. This year, the NRF says nearly 70 percent of adults plan to celebrate Halloween. Bars all over the country hold parties for the 21-and-up crowd and manufacturers crank out costumes that definitely aren’t meant for family trick-or-treating.

Modern-day Halloween traditions are said to derive from ancient rituals intended to protect people from ghosts, harsh winters and crop failures. These superstitions seem primitive today; and yet, putting ourselves in control of scary motifs seems to provide a measure of security even now.

Great Costume, Dilbert! (Boss says to himself....oh, he is so fired!)

Here is the “Great Pumpkin” business lesson buried deep inside a witch’s cauldron: Oh, such Creativity! Energy! Passion! Hard Work! 

Congratulations! You won the prize for the most creative costume! I love how you converted your dog into Darth Vader! Look how you made a Millennium Falcon out of a baby stroller! It must have taken you 100 hours to create that robot costume!

Yes, today is the day AFTER the big national party, and many of us are recovering from the self-induced “sugar coma” we entered from eating “just one more” Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (my weakness).

Just remember: when you go into work tomorrow, your boss has you all figured out.

Yes, you who made an aircraft carrier out of paper mache and tin foil. You who searched the Internet for weeks to find just the right accessory for your costume. And you who “found the time and money” to make the most creative, most amazing, most impressive Halloween Costume of all time!

Ah yes. You - the winner for “BEST COSTUME EVER” cannot figure out how to: log into or find the time to get “The Penske File” finished. You who never shows up on time for the staff meetings, or cannot find the typos on the company website, or... (shall I go on?)

Just remember America, as you post your amazing Halloween costumes on Facebook and social media, your boss is watching you. Ah, now the boss KNOWS the real you. Your supervisor just saw how creative, and passionate and hardworking you CAN be. Just not for them.

Now, that’s scary.


George Costanza working on “The Penske File”

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