Frightening times could mean an even scarier Halloween.
New Yorkers are expected to cut back this year - buying less candy, wearing used costumes, recycling old decorations and throwing fewer parties.
"The economy has caught up to Halloween this year," said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, which is predicting a 15.4 percent decrease in Halloween-related spending, based on a consumer survey.
"Since retailers know that American's will be looking to celebrate on a budget, there's no doubt we will see creative costume and decorating in every price point imaginable," Mullin added.
Local shop owners noted that tough times have put some costume manufacturers out of business over the last two years, making it harder to fill shelves.
"By now I usually have my whole order, but I don't even have half now," said Kodi Hadrick, manager of Abracadabra in Chelsea.
Hadrick is having trouble stocking this season's most popular costume: Michael Jackson. The lack of vendors and increase in demand has led to both shoddier outfits and higher prices, she said.
The Jackson suits rose to $65 this year from $45 - but that's still a bargain compared to higher-end costumes of all sorts popular in years past.
"Buyers are stocking up on smaller stuff to accessorize and making the costumes themselves as opposed to spending $100 on a full costume," said Justin Nelson, manager of the Halloween Adventure Shop in Union Square.
Those who lack a crafty side might want to try Craigslist.org, where a used fat ballerina inflatable suit goes for $15 while a vampire costume for a toddler runs $12. Meanwhile, Housing Works, a non-profit thrift store chain in New York City, is selling used outfits at an Oct. 24 "Costume for a Cause!" fundraiser.
"The overriding theme for Americans' Halloween celebrations this year will be, 'How creative can I be, and how little can I spend?'" said Phil Rist, executive vice president of BIGresearch, who conducted the Halloween survey for the National Retail Federation.