Mary McQuaid of Floral Park shops with her children, Michael,...

Mary McQuaid of Floral Park shops with her children, Michael, 6, and Jenna, 4, at Fortunoff’s Backyard in Westbury. (Oct. 10, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The Halloween market is a growing niche, providing consumers a momentary escape from reality, say retailers.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist," said Bernie Sensale, chief executive of the Fortunoff Backyard Store, which has transformed its Westbury store into a "Halloween emporium," with a wide range of costumes and decorations. "All you had to do is drive around Long Island last October and see all these pop-up stores like we did. It's obviously growing here."

A survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, a trade organization, said 68.6 percent of Americans, or about 7 in 10, intend to celebrate, an increase from the 63.8 percent who expected to participate last year. The average person is expected to spend $72.31, up from last year's $66.28. Total Halloween purchases are projected to reach $6.86 billion.

Retail analyst Marshal Cohen expects Halloween won't be quite the treat that the federation projects, and is likely to bring only a 2 percent increase in sales from last year. Typically a significant boost in Halloween sales is driven by the holiday falling on Friday or Saturday, he said. This year, it falls on a Monday.

"You are going to get marginal growth because the consumer is feeling a little bit healthier, but there's nothing else going on," Cohen said. "There's no supersonic character that came out of a movie this year."

Still, a spokeswoman for Spirit Halloween, a national chain with 12 seasonal Halloween stores on Long Island, said Halloween spending continues to grow, driven in part by the need for an inexpensive vacation from a stalled economy.

"People want to escape their problems even more and are looking forward to a holiday where they can forget their problems and become somebody else," said Heather Golin, of Spirit Halloween, based in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

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