Naughty nurses, vampires top costumes


Perhaps it’s just too scary to dress up like a collateralized
debt obligation, double-digit unemployment or anything else that’s truly
dreadful. So Halloween revelers this year are largely eschewing economy-themed
Halloween costumes even as the economy dictates the way they shop.

Jorge Torres, the manager of Casa de los Trucos in Miami,
said Michael Jackson, Mario Brothers and Hannah Montana continue to be hot
sellers. Hobos, politicians and costumes too firmly rooted in reality seem to
be out. Indeed, only one customer has requested an outfit of notorious Ponzi-schemer
Bernard Madoff.

“Can I tell you why I don’t carry that mask? I just
don’t like the guy,” Torres said. “He left a bad taste in everybody’s

But if you’re dying to be the man sentenced to 150 years
behind bars, latex Madoff masks are now running for about $26 at various online

At Party City in South Miami, Anna Valle, 36, was trying to
throw together a Las Vegas-era Elvis Presley costume — complete with bouffant
wig — for under $80. Last year she spent about $200 on a Marie Antoinette
outfit, but this year the Miami massage therapist said she is trying to cut

Almost axed in her budget tightening were tickets to the
costume ball at Viscaya Museum and Gardens. While the event usually costs $125,
Valle said she finagled a $90 group rate.

“The economy has made a difference,” she said.
“Last year our costumes were much more elaborate.”

Even so, the National Retail Federation estimates more
people will be celebrating Halloween this year and the average consumer will
spend $66.54 on the holiday — up $1.72 from last year.

“Though the economy is struggling, Halloween sales may
be a bright spot for retailers this fall,” Tracy Mullin, the federation’s
president and CEO said in a release.

“Consumers — who have been anxious and uncertain for
the past several months — may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to
forget the stresses of daily life and just have a little fun.”

Roxana Chiang, 40, of Miami, said she wasn’t too focused on
the $30 price tag on the naughty nurse outfit she was planning to wear this

“People just want to celebrate and try to forget,”
she said. “This is a good time to escape.”

Costume World, with its headquarters in Deerfield Beach,
Fla., claims to be the country’s largest costume shop. On Friday, store assistant
Missy McArdle said old standards — such as sexy woman cop and military outfits
— were selling well, as were vampires and religious outfits.

“Many people are going as the Pope,” she said.
“We have been blessed may times in the lobby.”

The store was expecting sales to be flat or just slightly
down from last year.

In contrast to last year, politically themed costumes are
not selling well, retailers said. Last year Casa de los Trucos sold all 84 of
its Barack Obama masks. This year they are only carrying 64 Obama masks and, by
Friday afternoon, not a single one had sold, Torres said.

“That gives you an idea of how popular he is now,”
he said. “Maybe we’ll have to wait another four years.”

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.