The nation’s Halloween spend has increased by a factor of 10 since 2001 and reached Ã‚Â£120 million last year, according to Woolworths. It is anticipating a 30 per cent increase this year.
So, what’s going on here? Your simple economist might suggest Woolworths are tapping a well of previously unsatisfied demand for Hallowe’en merchandise. Alternatively, something has happened in the last 5 years to make Hallowe’en 1000 percent more popular. What’s called a “shock”. I struggle to find either explanation very convincing.
An obvious alternative is that our choices, our preferences for spooky Chinese tat, are somehow shaped by society. Markedly so. Perhaps by the sudden appearance of an aisle-full of the stuff in Tesco. Scrape away the specifics and there’s the buried logic: that the “argument from choice” – more choice means fewer diktats and more freedom, so is A Good Thing – is empty, without some accompanying reasons why and how we’re equipped to use that choice, and explanations of what choices magically appear, and for whom. If all we do is buy what we’re told to buy, why not cut the crap and just buy what we’re told? This fetishization of choice is just more seasonal dark arts.
But then we all knew that already, didn’t we?