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CLEVELAND - Halloween retailers have nothing to be scared about this year.
The National Retail Federation says American consumers are expected to spend almost $80 a person on decorations, costumes and candy – a total of $8 billion for this Halloween season.
Look in any store's candy section and you'll find row after row, bag after bag of sweet treats.
"I like the little sugar pumpkins to fill glass jars in the wall unit in my family room with seasonal things," said shopper Sharon Katona.
Halloween wouldn't be complete without wax fangs, gooey eyeballs and sugary werewolves. But sugar is what's shooting up candy prices this year, along with the high price of gasoline.
"You know, buy a 5-pound bag of sugar at a grocery store now, and it's $3.59, whereas two years ago, it was around $2, $2.59," said Sweetie's Candy owner Tom Scheiman.
However, consumers aren't spooked. They're already on the prowl for savings.
"I'm just buying bulk candy that's wrapped because the kids have to have that," said shopper Sandy Viburs. "I do price, and yes, it's cheaper to buy bulk."
Here's some examples of sweet deals to be found this Halloween season:
* Despite the price increase, you can still find candy like mini-sized Reese's cups for around $3 a bag or less at Sweetie's or Save-A-Lot , $2.68 for a 10.5 ounce bag at Walmart , and $2.49 for the same item at Marc's .
* An 11 ounce bag of Snickers is going for $2.69 a bag at Walmart and Save-A-Lot, while Marc's is pricing it at $2.49 a bag.
* You can find a 10.72 ounce bag of fun-sized Skittles for $2.79 at Marc's, $2.69 at Target and $2.28 at Walmart.
* Walmart and Save-A-Lot have 11 ounce bags of M&M's for $2.69 each, while at Marc's, it's $2.49 a bag.
You can also save money if you look for seasonal coupons and skip over items with special Halloween packaging, which adds extra costs. If you have a big freezer, buy candy on sale throughout the year and thaw it for your trick-or-treaters.
If you're wondering what to do after Halloween with the piles of candy your child has collected, consider exchanging it for a good cause. The national " Halloween Candy Buyback " program allows you to bring leftover sweets to a participating dentist in exchange for freebies or a little cash, and the candy is then sent to troops overseas.
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