NEW YORK (MainStreet) – America is going all out for Halloween this year. Overall spending for Halloween is projected by the National Retail Federation at $6.86 billion, the highest since it started tracking those numbers nine years ago. Of that, $2.5 billion will be spent on costumes alone, with $1 billion spent on children’s costumes and another $1.2 billion to be spent on adult costumes.

That other $0.3 billion? We’ll be spending that on costumes for our pets, of course.

According to the NRF, we can expect to see a lot of dogs dressed up as pumpkins this Halloween, as that’s apparently the most popular pet costume for the year. That’s followed by devils (devil dogs, presumably, being the operative pun here) and hot dogs, which we imagine will be the costume of choice for many long, skinny dogs like dachshunds.

Many other owners will be going for more minimalist costumes. The seventh most-popular “costume” is a simple anthropomorphizing accessory tied around the neck, including bowties, fancy collars, and bandanas. We supposed this is the inverse of humans who dress up as cats by putting on cat ears.

Our favorite trend this year is what we’ll call the species switch: Owners who dress their dogs up as cats and their cats up as dogs, both of which made the top 10. We fear this could precipitate the kind of identity crises that land many pets in therapy.

Their human owners will also be dressed up. The same survey projects that there will be approximately 2.6 million zombies in America roaming the streets at the end of the month (which is the kind of statistic that would be a lot more scary if it were published by, say, the CDC).  It seems the popularity of zombie costumes has grown as quickly as the hordes of the walking dead have, at least in the media: After ranking as only the 22nd most popular children’s costume last year, it has leapt into the top 10 with a ninth-place showing for 2011. And it’s even more popular among adults, ranking fourth behind witches, pirates and vampires. The rise in popularity is likely due to a resurgence of the living dead in popular culture, including AMC’s The Walking Dead and the video game Dead Island.

Superhero costumes also made a strong showing. Spider-Man and Batman costumes came in third and eighth in the children’s rankings, respectively, despite the fact that neither character has had a blockbuster film in more than three years. Superman finished outside the top 10 – just 1.3% of children plan to dress up as the Man of Steel this year – which we’d say is a pretty telling statistic regarding the eternal Batman/Superman rivalry. Batman and his related characters (including Joker and Robin) collectively ranked fifth in the adult rankings, which makes sense to this reporter, who dressed up as Robin last year.

Top Pet Costumes for 2011
1. Pumpkin
2. Devil
3. Hot dog
4. Bee
5. Cat
6. Witch
7. Bowties/Fancy Collars/Bandanas
8. Pirate
9. Dog
10. Ghost

The NRF’s predictions are in line with MainStreet’s experts, who told us which costumes we can expect to see this Halloween.

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