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Halloween treats: Pet costumes still in, but spending drops

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Published:   |   Updated: October 31, 2013 at 06:32 AM

Sorry Rover, you’ll just have to wear the same Superdog costume you wore last year.

When data came out earlier this month that suggested Americans will likely spend $330 million on costumes for their pets, it made big headlines. But there was a backstory to that factoid. The amount is actually significantly down from last year — by 11 percent. In fact, people are slashing their Halloween spending like some kind of bloody horror flick.

The National Retail Federation every holiday surveys Americans on their spending plans, so these are forward-looking estimates, and the data on what actually happens will take some time to come through.

Pet stores, meanwhile, are heavily pushing pet costumes to get a slice of that spending. Petco, for instance, now sells a set of bride and groom outfits, sized for guinea pigs, ferrets and rabbits for $14.99, with a handy chart for sizing: The chest circumference for the medium size is eight to nine and a half inches.

Party City is growing its lineup of pet costumes, including a Lady Gaga-themed costume to “Help your dog avoid a ‘Bad Romance’ in this adorable Pup-A-Razzi Pop Sensation Dog Costume,” complete with sunglasses, bodysuit, and if your dog will tolerate it, a blonde wig “styled with the pop diva’s signature hair bow atop the head.”

Jenni Bernstein, manager of the Downtown Dogs pet supply store in Tampa, said the shop started carrying pet costumes the day they opened in 2006, and they’ve been popular ever since.

Knowing people are tight with their budgets lately, she’s been carrying costumes that can be broken up into smaller parts, and can be used at different times a year. “Nautical costumes are a big theme for us,” she said. “So you can use the costumes several times a year — Gasparilla and Halloween.”

Her big concern is that people in Florida don’t overdo the costumes and dress their pets so much that they overheat. So she advises people maybe go with just a jaunty nautical hat or scarf instead of a whole getup when the weather is steamy.

Still, if Rover doesn’t get a new costume like that this year, he shouldn’t feel singled out amid the cutbacks affecting various categories. Spending on adult costumes is taking the biggest hit, and is likely to fall 13 percent this year, according to the NRF.

Spending on children’s costumes could fall 5 percent, while spending on — of all things — candy could fall 11 percent.

rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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