Happy Halloween 2017.
Never mind that our national politics are scary, the stock market explosion is getting scary, and the world itself is scarier with warfare and nuclear threats than at any time in recent history.
Let’s not let reality get in the way of enjoying a superficial boo or two this coming week.
The National Retail Federation puts the numbers to our Halloween obsessions. It says more than 179 million Americans are planning to partake in Halloween festivities, up about 8 million over last year.
And record spending is expected — about $9 billion, compared to $8.4 billion last year. That’s an average of about $86 per person.
And what costume is No. 1 in projected sales? For adults, surprise, it’s a witch. For children, various superheroes. And, of course, all you folks with pets? About 10 percent of you will dress your pet as a pumpkin.
As candy-corny as that sounds, you can dress anything as a pumpkin as long as you avoid pumpkin-spice anything, including, Lord, help us, pumpkin beer.
The survey was done by Prosper Insights & Analytics. It advertises itself as a global leader in “consumer intent data.”
The new survey said 35 percent of consumers will find a costume online, followed by 30 percent in retail stores. If you’re like our Notebook family of yesteryear, you’ll head to the rag bag near the laundry room.
■ The busiest shopping day? Social media has disrupted traditional shopping patterns, including Halloween. While we were looking at Halloween spending, we looked ahead to traditional “Black Friday.” That’s the intense shopping day Friday that follows Thanksgiving Thursday. Black Friday is paired these days with “Cyber Monday.”
But the truth is, holiday shopping is an obsession for many no matter where they buy.
The National Retail Federation says more than half of the nation’s holiday shoppers start shopping efforts in October. Yes, October, as in now. And you’re sitting back thinking that you might start — if you’re aggressive — on Dec. 1.
Online shopping has cut into Black Friday’s pre-eminence, but it remains “the” day for mass shopping mania. That may be even more so this year because some big retailers are pulling back from opening on Thanksgiving Day itself.
From home improvement Lowe’s to Marshalls to Costco to Bed, Bath & Beyond and beyond, major retailers are sitting out Thanksgiving. Your Notebook would like it if every retailer closed on Thanksgiving. Then, we could all use Thanksgiving as a day to, well, give thanks for what we already have.
■ If we could decree … The Notebook offers a “boo” to one particularly annoying habit on Facebook and other social media sites. If there were one posting that we would simply ban? It would be those postings that make a declarative statement about some emotional feeling and then invite you — no, appeal to you — to “click ‘like’ if you agree.” We agree such posts are annoying and juvenile.
■ Boo bet of the week. On Saturday, the odds and ticket prices are changing for the Mega Millions lottery drawing. Single tickets will cost $2 instead of one. The minimum jackpot will rise from $15 million to $40 million.
That’s the kind-of good news. You’ll win more if you win —“if” being the operative word here. The bad news is that your chances of winning, already ridiculous, will get worse.
Your odds of winning with one ticket right now are 1 in 258,890,850.
As of Saturday, your odds get worse. They’ll be 1 in 302 million.
The competing Powerball isn’t much better. The odds are 1 in 292,201,338.
Let’s put those odds in perspective. NBC4 published these numbers with your Notebook’s television story on Monday:
The chance of being hit by lightning? One in 10,000.
The chance of hitting a hole-in-one in golf? One in 12,500.
The chance of being hit by a meteorite? One in 1.6 million.
And the chance of being attacked by a shark? One in 11.5 million.
So to recap, your chance of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is minuscule at best, a fraction from impossible.
We asked the DC Lottery about the woeful odds and what it tells potential players.
“I think you need to be cautious,” said interim executive director Tracey Cohen. “You don’t bet the farm when you play these games.”
Critics of lotteries and gambling in general say flashy advertising psychologically overwhelms rational thoughts. At the Tenley Mini Market on Wisconsin Avenue NW, we ran into a lottery player. She had won $57,000 in one game a dozen years ago. She only plays a few dollars a week now, believing she might win.
The chances of winning are 300 million to 1, we told her.
“I can be the one,” she said smilingly as she turned to pay the cashier.
Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.