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Consumer Confidential: Scary candy sales, be safe, Black Friday

Here's your mad-dogs-and-Englishmen Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- So how much candy will be doled out tonight for Halloween? The answer is $2.3 billion worth, according to the National Confectioners Assn. That's up about 1% from last year. The Census Bureau says the average American consumes about 25 pounds of candy every year. Some other fun facts: There are an estimated 41 million potential trick-or-treaters in 2010 -- children ages 5 to 14 -- across the country. The average jack-o'-lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy, amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar. Most U.S. children consume between 3,500 and 7,000 calories from candy on Halloween. Finally, candy companies produced about 35 million pounds of candy corn this year. That's a truly scary figure.

-- How to make the holiday safer? Here's some advice from the experts at the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Choose flame-resistant costumes. Homemade costumes should be made out of flame-resistant fabrics, like polyester or nylon. Wear bright colors or costumes with reflectors to ensure being visible in the dark. Also, to avoid tripping, make sure costumes aren't too long. Avoid masks -- they can make it more difficult to see properly. Replace them with makeup and hats. Test makeup. Put a small amount of costume makeup on one arm about two days before dressing up.

-- Black Friday comes earlier and earlier. Macy's is planning its earliest start ever to the holiday shopping season by opening many of its U.S stores at midnight on Thanksgiving night. Target announced a similar move last week, setting the stage for what is likely to be a competitive holiday season for U.S. store chains. The National Retail Federation says U.S. retail sales should rise 2.8% in November and December, excluding cars, gas and restaurants. Store hours can vary by chain and by location, but last year most chains opened their doors at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.

-- David Lazarus

 
 
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