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Most Coveted Costumes

What Are the Most Searched for Halloween Costumes? [Study]

Key Takeaways

  • Spider-Man was the most searched for Halloween costume in America this year.
  • Americans planned on spending $79, on average, on their Halloween costume this year.
  • Nearly half of Americans reported being extremely likely to celebrate Halloween in 2021.
  • 40% of trick-or-treaters said they’d be wearing face masks, but only 23% of people who will be handing out candy said they plan to.

Halloween 2021: Redefining Trick or Treat

Halloween is a holiday where we tend to let loose, have fun, and goof around with friends for an evening. As we continue to ride the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, some people might not be as willing to let their guard down this year.

We combined search volume data with a survey of 1,092 Americans to learn more about how America will be celebrating on October 31. First, we identified the most popular costumes for each state by using search trends data via SEMRush. Next, we surveyed people about their willingness to participate in festivities and in what capacity they’ll be celebrating. More specific questions regarding how the pandemic will affect their Halloween experience were then posed. Read on to find out what the Halloween celebration landscape is going to look like in 2021.

Hey Google, What Should I Be for Halloween?

What kind of costumes are most popular across the country? From the map below, which uses search engine analytics to show the most researched costumes in each state, we can analyze key regional costume preferences.

For example, dressing up as a Power Ranger was mightily popular down south, being the go-to costume in places like Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. Elsewhere, kids clearly still love the popular video game Fortnite, as costumes relating to it were a hit in New Mexico, Iowa, and Kentucky.

Those wanting to dress up as something a little more on the scary side might opt for a Pennywise costume, as seen in multiple states including Montana, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Vermont.

Most Popular Halloween Costumes

Elsewhere, people preferred portraying characters from major TV shows. Although the following costumes were not the most popular in a given state, we still wanted to highlight some interesting ones gathered from our research. Popular 2020 documentary “Tiger King” was a hit in the U.S., where it was watched by 34 million people in just 10 days last year. Montana and North Dakota residents were the most likely to dress as the face of the show, Joe Exotic. In contrast, respondents from Wyoming and South Dakota were the most likely to dress as Exotic’s nemesis, Carole Baskin.

Meanwhile, Karen costumes were most prevalent in Alaska, Rhode Island, and North Dakota. The term ‘Karen’ has become an internet meme in recent years, describing someone, typically a white woman, who exhibits behaviors that stem from privilege. Folks in Louisiana, Georgia, and Virginia went the risque route, with many opting to dress up as Playboy Bunnies.

This infographic was built using search volume data from SEMRush, whereas the information within the graphics to follow were gathered via our own survey data results.

Before You Don Your Outfit ...

Here, we’ll talk about budget and take a look at how respondents rated costumes based on certain adjectives.

Pandemic-Era Halloween Costumes

Americans spent an average of $60.05 in 2019 for their Halloween costumes. This year, people are looking to be a little more extravagant with their costume expenditure. Gen Xers were willing to shell out the most cash with a $92 budget, on average, while millennials were the most conservative with a budget of $69.

When asked about this year’s most attractive and most overplayed costumes, Harley Quinn claimed the top spot in both. People might want to think twice about dressing up as Quinn, though, as this costume was also voted the most offensive. This is because some people claim that the costume perpetuates negative stereotypes about the mentally ill (as the character has a mental illness in the movies/comics).

On the evening of October 31, 35% of people are going to be wearing masks for protection against COVID-19, 30% will rely on their costume mask for safety, 27% are going to wear both, and another 8% won’t bother with either type of mask.

Festivities Afoot

How has COVID-19 affected people’s plans to celebrate Halloween this year? It seems as if the pandemic hasn’t dampened many people’s Halloween spirits, as 45% of respondents said they were extremely likely to celebrate the holiday in 2021. When broken down by generation, America’s youth were more excited about October 31 than older people. By political affiliation, Democrats were slightly more in the Halloween spirit than Republicans, as 49% of the former planned on celebrating as opposed to 43% of the latter.

Is Trick-Or-Treat Happening in 2021?

There are different types of fun to be had on Halloween night. While there was no clear-cut favorite activity, 41% of respondents planned on hunkering down for the night and enjoying a horror movie marathon. Others preferred to go elsewhere, like a haunted house, in-person party, theme park event, or just good ol’ trick-or-treating.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, people are taking measures to stay safe this year. For example, instead of handing out candy, some homeowners planned on leaving a bowl of candy outside to minimize interactions. In any case, 40% of trick-or-treaters said they’ll be wearing masks, but only 23% of people who will still be handing out candy said they plan to. The majority of people said they would follow COVID-19 guidelines during Halloween, and baby boomers were the most likely to say as much.

Gatherings … Scarier Than Ghosts?

Next we asked what people were most worried about regarding this year’s Halloween celebrations. While it’s true that many are gearing up for an epic Halloween, 55% of respondents admitted to being very or extremely nervous about celebrating with other people in person. Over two-thirds of baby boomers shared this hesitancy, although less than half of millennials felt the same way.

Concerns About Celebrating Halloween

People were most worried about big crowds, especially if unvaccinated people were in the mix. The vaccination debate is also a sensitive topic, and many were concerned about fights breaking out between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. While COVID-19 cases have taken a dip recently, the current seven-day average (at the time of writing in early October) sits at 106,395 cases across the country. This number is clearly still high enough to keep people second-guessing about whether they want to celebrate in public.

Concern Callout

The vast majority of parents were concerned, to some degree, about their children receiving candy from unvaccinated neighbors. Assuming the FDA authorizes the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, 38% of parents said they would definitely vaccinate their kids in that age range. This might curb some of the worry that mothers and fathers have regarding their kids interacting with unvaccinated people, but contactless trick-or-treating transactions would probably give them even more peace of mind.

Are Parents Concerned About This Upcoming Halloween?

Furthermore, parents of children aged 11 or younger (67%) were more concerned about public Halloween celebrations than parents of older children (53%). Kids of all ages can develop severe complications from the virus, so it’s not surprising that parents are extra worried about them in anticipation of Halloween 2021.

COVID Won’t Cancel Costumes

Regarding costumes, people were inspired by all sorts of different cultural icons. As always, dressing up as superheroes looks set to be popular across the country this Halloween, but many also plan to take on the role of famous TV stars (Tiger King) and meme characters (Karen).

Picking out a get-up is the fun part, but many were concerned about Halloween celebrations amid the pandemic. A lot of people still planned on partying with others, but others preferred to opt for a horror movie marathon at home, far from large gatherings and crowds. For those going out, most will wear a mask, in some capacity, to protect themselves – contactless trick-or-treating will also likely be implemented by many households who enjoy giving out candy but are also putting safety first.

No matter how you plan on celebrating Halloween 2021, Rush Order Tees can help you look the part. From sports jerseys to polos, you can customize a wide variety of garments to get your costume just right. Head over now to start creating the perfect clothing for just about any occasion.

Methodology and Limitations

We used data provided by SEMrush, a trusted data provider, to explore the most searched-for costumes in each U.S. state.

To complement this study, we surveyed 1,092 Americans on their sentiments about celebrating Halloween amid the pandemic. Among them, 51% were men, and 49% were women. For generation breakdowns, the sample sizes were as follows:

  • Baby boomers: 145
  • Generation X: 312
  • Millennials: 432
  • Generation Z: 203

For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.

These data rely on self-reporting by the respondents and are only exploratory. Issues with self-reported responses include, but aren’t limited to, exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and bias. All values are based on estimation. Our margin of error was +/- 3%.

Fair Use Statement

If you’re planning on celebrating Halloween, we hope, at the very least, that we’ve given you some fun costume inspiration. Feel free to share this article with friends or family, but only for noncommercial use please. We also kindly ask that you provide them with the original link so our contributors can earn credit for their work.