Halloween 2009 is likely to go down in history as the year of the dead celebrity, but traditional favorites like witches and vampires still rule the holiday.
When you hit a Halloween party this year, you are almost guaranteed to find at least one person dressed as Michael Jackson. The costume has proven popular this year because of Jackson's June 25 death. BuyCostumes.com reported searches for Michael Jackson are up 1,000 percent over previous years and red jackets, fedoras and shiny white gloves are now in popular demand.
But Jackson isn't the only dead celebrity who will be haunting neighborhoods and parties Oct. 31. Other popular dead celebrity costumes include Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and infomercial pitchman Billy Mays.
However, as the National Retail Federation reports, most of us will be sticking with the traditional this year. According to the group's annual survey, witches will once again be the most popular costume overall among adults this year.
And vampires, thanks to a pop culture upswing in everything vampire, have moved up one spot on the list, finishing No. 2 behind witches. The costume has proven popular not only because of "Twilight" books and movies, but also from TV shows like HBO's "True Blood" and CW's "The Vampire Diaries" and other movies like "The Vampire's Assistant."
For children, make-believe takes the top spot for the fifth year in a row with 4.5 million princesses expected to flood the streets in pink dresses and tiaras on Halloween. Those handing out candy will also see an estimated 2 million witches, 1.3 million Spidermen, and 1 million pirates, pumpkins and vampires.
The NRF also found that while vampires and witches are as popular as ever among adults, nurse and politician costumes have fallen out of favor this year.
"The departure of both nurses and politicians from the top costumes list could be an indication that Americans would like to shelve the health care reform debate ?- at least for one night ?- to have a little bipartisan fun," said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO, in a statement. "Pop culture always influences Halloween costumes, and it will be interesting to see how creative Americans can get this year."
The pop culture costumes aren't likely to stop at Jackson, Fawcett and other dead celebrities either. Kate Gosselin, Hannah Montana and Lady Gaga are proving to be popular ideas this year, according to NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis, along with Alice in Wonderland/Madhatter costumes in anticipation of the upcoming Tim Burton-Johnny Depp film.
Indeed, swine flu and the Madhatter traded positions as No. 1 and No. 2 for the week ending Oct. 23 on a list of most popular costume ideas on Costumzee, an online community of more than 20,000 people focused on costumes.
Most adults surveyed by the NRF -- 88 percent -- said that while they plan to celebrate Halloween this year, they plan to spend less because of the economic downturn. The report found that the average consumer plans to spend $56.31 on Halloween merchandise this year, down from $66.54 in 2008.
Consumers plan to spend an average of $20.75 on costumes, which includes children's and pets' costumes, $17.99 on candy, $14.54 on decorations and $3.02 on greeting cards.
The survey found that 47 million adults and 58 million children across the country plan to dress up for Halloween this year.