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Pet costume sales take bite out of recession

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I can't think of how many conversations I've had, stories I've edited or written, and general Bad Thoughts I've had, since starting here at NJBIZ, related to either the devastating recession or the devastatingly slow recovery.

Please, don't do this.

Every so often, though, I think that the whole thing has been a fantasy, like when I read a story such as this, forecasting that U.S. consumers are preparing to spend $370 million on costumes for their pets this year.

That kind of surprised me, as someone who takes a hard look at how much a gallon of milk costs before buying it. Personally, the thought of spending $80 on Halloween — the average, says the National Retail Federation — would leave me as queasy as a dinner of candy corn. I mean, if you're eight, and want to dress like a vampire, that doesn't seem too unreasonable. Dressing up for an office party, to me, is putting a toe over a line that shouldn't be crossed. But deciding to put your schnauzer in a shark costume (oh yes, you can do that; a Google search for "pet costumes Halloween" returned almost 31 million hits) seems like the kind of thing you think about only after the door to your padded cell is locked.

Of course, the minute the plastic skeletons are taken down and the pumpkins begin to rot, we'll be encouraged to start buying holiday gifts for everyone, pets included, and we'll be no closer to getting consumers to think about the credit card bills due Dec. 26. Halloween pet costumes may be a nice story for the retailers who sell them, but it's discouraging that consumers are so reckless in the middle of an agonizingly slow recovery.

Unless, you know, we're not.

I'm even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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