Among the biggest sellers so far, Caltagirone says, are Supergirl and Harley Quinn, the DC Comics supervillain.
The shift comes in a year packed with superhero movies, including “Deadpool,” “Suicide Squad” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.” “Batman and Superman” sparred on the big screen, while Captain American duked it out with Iron Man. But action flicks aren’t just dominating the silver screen: The television network CW has four superhero shows in its fall line-up, including “Supergirl,” “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” while “DC Super Hero Girls” has its own video series on YouTube.
“The movie industry has a huge impact on costuming, so that’s part of it,” Caltagirone said. “But then again, who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Halloween is the one day of the year you can get away with it.”
Halloween spending is expected to reach a record $8.4 billion this year, with Americans spending an average of $82.93 on costumes, decorations and candy, up from last year’s $74.34, according to the National Retail Federation.
More than two-thirds of Americans plan to buy costumes this year, accounting for $3.1 billion in spending, according to the survey. About 20 percent of children say they will don a superhero custom (versus 6 percent for princesses), while 9.3 percent of millennials are planning to dress as a Batman character such as Cat Woman, Two-Face and the Joker.
“Every year we have the classics: Batman, Superman, Spiderman,” said Trisha Lombardo, a spokeswoman for the chain Spirit Halloween. “But this year, we’re also seeing a lot of anti-heros, like Harley Quinn, the Joker and Deadpool, who have a mischievous streak.”
With the presidential election looming over Halloween, Lombardi says she expects a steady stream of customers who want to dress up as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. At Total Fright, Caltagirone says he has sold out of several rounds of Trump masks, at $24.95 a pop. On Monday, the day of the first presidential debate, he also sold out of Clinton masks. (Indeed, political costumes ranked third on the list of popular options for adults age 35 and over, behind more traditional witch and pirate get-ups.)
Another trend this year: Pet costumes. Roughly 16 percent of Americans say they’ll dress up their dogs, cats and bunnies for Halloween, according to the survey. The most popular costumes for pets were pumpkins (1o percent of respondents), followed by hot dogs (8 percent) and bumblebees (5 percent).
“People are spending more and more money on pet costumes,” Caltagirone said, adding that pet items make up about 20 percent of his sales. “They’re a part of the family — and, well, dogs aren’t going to complain about dressing up.”