How We Spend - Goblin It Up

Halloween spending, interest rates and getting our veggies.

 Illustration: Colin Johnson

Halloween is a big deal in the Midwest, where folks are likelier than people in other regions to dress up or take kids trick-or-treating, according to the National Retail Federation (see charts). But in other ways, it’s not so big a deal-Midwesterners also spend the least on costumes and candy. Apparently the heartland’s penchant for thrift is at work here. “You might get more homemade items in the Midwest,” says Scott Krugman, spokesman for the retail federation.

Anecdotal evidence from local retailers, however, suggests that Chicagoans are willing to spend to deck themselves out for Halloween. The average costume purchase in the Midwest comes to $25.47, according to the retail federation. But Chuck Giovenco, a manager of Fantasy Costumes on Milwaukee Avenue, says the average at his store approaches $40. Mary Hickey Panayotou, owner of Lincoln Park’s Chicago Costume, says her average Halloween customer spends between $70 and $80, whether renting or buying a costume. She also says that different styles prevail, depending on the buyer’s home turf. South Siders go for fun and flashy-like Elvis. North Siders tend toward period costumes. And West Siders like their outfits “a little tighter, a little shorter,” she says. This year, for the first time, Panayotou will sell pet costumes, such as Princess Leia outfits for cats and dogs. Now, that’s really scary.

Halloween Activities*
 
Average Spending*
Dress in costume   On costumes 
Midwest
32.3%
 West
$30.77
West
30.5%
 South
$28.18
Northeast
30.4%
 Northeast
$27.92
South
29.3%
 Midwest
$25.47
National
30.7%
 National
$28.11

Take kids trick-or-treating  On candy 
Midwest
34.5%
 Northeast
$16.39
South
32.4%
 West
$15.87
Northeast
31.9%
 South
$15.55
West
28.8%
 Midwest
$15.18
National
32.2%
 National
$15.84
Figures are for adults who planned to celebrate Halloween in 2004.

Interest Baring

Sure, Chicago may have a pricey housing market, but in other ways consumers here have it pretty good. Chicagoans can get some of the best deals in the country when it comes to auto loans, certificates of deposit, and interest-bearing checking accounts, according to the interest rate tracker Bankrate.com. It’s all about the competition, says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate. “Between 2002 and 2004, the number of Chicago [bank] branches grew by 15 percent, and the amount of deposits grew only 10 percent,” he says. The result: juicier interest rates to lure or keep customers. Conversely, at press time, Chicago had the highest average fixed rate in the country on 30-year mortgages, at 6.08 percent. (Seattle had the lowest, at 5.85.)

Your best bet? Shop around. Mortgage rates can vary up to 0.4 percent in Chicago alone.

Lowest Interest Rates for Auto Loans
Cincinnati6.15%
Baltimore6.36%
Milwaukee6.61%
Chicago6.74%
Cleveland 6.94%
National average7.95%
Highest Rates for Interest-Bearing Checking Accounts
Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit (tie)0.46%
Denver0.43%
Chicago0.37%
National average0.27%
Highest Rates for One-Year CDs
Detroit3.43%
Atlanta3.22%
Cleveland 3.20%
Kansas City, Mo.3.16%
Chicago3.11%
National average2.87%

Meat Market

As with the evening news, so too with Midwestern food preferences: if it bleeds, it leads. Or, to put it plainly, you’ll find the lowest percentage of vegetarians right here in the heartland, according to the Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group. Just 1 percent of Midwesterners eschew meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. In the South the rate is 3 percent, and in the West it’s 4 percent. Despite gorging themselves silly at places like Gibsons and Morton’s, Chicagoans do get their veggies, relatively speaking. The average local household spends $624 a year on fruits and vegetables, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, more than in any other Midwestern city. Cleveland area households spend the least in the country ($448 annually) and San Francisco the most ($780).

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