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Are Zombie Costumes Dying?

Zombies may finally be a dying breed. According to the National Retail Federations annual list of popular Halloween costumes, the number of adult individuals wearing zombie costumes this year has fallen from 2011′s fourth place to 2012s fifth place, with only 3.6% of the adult population wearing them. Some could interpret this as a sign that zombies are losing their grip on the mainstream masses.

This zombie’s sign is all too true.

The costumes ranking higher than zombies are witches (ranking #1, with 9.5% of the adult population), vampires (#2, with 5.2%), pirates (#3, 4.6%), and Batman costumes (#4, 3.7%). The Batman costumes come as no surprise, what with The Dark Knight Rises releasing this year, but the fact that one film can carry such pull as to push down a whole genre is surprising. Then again, people may just be getting sick of the undead.

What can we say? People love the Joker.

But before we go throwing around assumptions, let’s examine last year’s Halloween trends: Still in first place are witch costumes (with 13.4% of the surveyed adult population), followed by pirates (3.9%), vampires (3.7%), zombies (3%), and Batman costumes (2.2%).

According to rank, yes, zombie costumes have fallen in ranking popularity. But that doesn’t explain how zombie costumes came in at a lower rank while having a higher percentage than the year before. (In 2011, 3% of the adult population wore zombie costumes, while the 2012 survey lists 3.6% of individuals wearing zombie costumes.)

Here’s how it happened: Look no further than the number differences for the other categories. All of the costume genres ahead of zombie costumes fell in percentage between the 2011 and 2012 surveys. Basically, less total individuals were wearing zombie costumes, but more people were also wearing less of the costumes ranking higher than zombie costumes.

A bit complicated, but nothing too crazy.

Irradiated female nurse zombie? Love it.

So what’s the takeaway? Here’s what we think: Zombie costumes continue to be one of the go-to options for Halloween. Why? Well, they represent all of what Halloween has to offer – death, decay, fright, and a limitless ability to blend all of these elements with one’s own creativity. You want to be a burn victim zombie? Do it. Headless zombie? Go ahead.

Halloween is about wearing what you feel best accentuates your personality. If that’s a slobbering undead monstrosity, have a party, and screw what the data says about zombie costumes losing popularity.