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    Chocolate Rates as Top Halloween Treat

    Consumers plan to spend more this year on holiday purchases.

    Almost two-fifths of Americans say you are never too old to trick-or-treat. That's good news for consumers who plan to spend an average of 3.6 percent more than last year on Halloween-related purchases, including chocolate, the No. 1 rated treat, according to the Shopping in America Halloween 2005 survey, conducted for The Macerich Co. by August Partners.

    So what do treaters most hope to see in their bags this Halloween? Shoppers rated chocolate (nearly 49 percent), money (almost 15 percent) and chewy candy (9.5 percent) as their top three favorite treats. Hard candy (7.6 percent), popcorn (4.3 percent) and gum (4.1 percent) were the next three favored treats.

    "Halloween is popular among consumers of all ages, with the average shopper planning to spend $51 [on candy, costumes, decorations and other holiday-related purchases], nearly 4 percent more than last year," said Garry Butcher, vice president of marketing and consumer research for The Macerich Co. "Even senior citizens plan to join in the festivities, with those 75+ representing the second largest age group of trick-or-treaters, just behind the 12- to 17-year-olds [the youngest group surveyed]."

    The national survey, which polled more than 4,300 shoppers, showed that 58 percent plan to take part in Halloween activities. Forty-four percent of revelers plan to trick-or-treat -- up slightly from last year.

    Most -- 70 percent -- will trick-or-treat in their own neighborhood, with malls (8 percent) coming in as the second most-popular destination.

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