In her book Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop Of Dreams, author Jenny Colgan (@jennycolgan) wrote, “[Halloween] is the crack between the last golden rays of summer and the dark of winter; the delicately balanced tweak of the year before it is given over entirely to the dark; a time for the souls of the departed to squint, to peek and perhaps to travel through the gap.” Holidays, like Halloween, can sometimes help us gauge the mood of the country and this Halloween could be telling. Journalist Stephanie Osmanski writes, “There are two kinds of people: Those that start decorating for Halloween in August and those that can’t get into the Halloween spirit until October 1.” For the second consecutive year, Halloween festivities, and the spirit they create, are facing a COVID-19 challenge. In addition, this year Halloween falls on a Sunday; and, that fact alone could impact some activities. From costumes to candy to home decorations, strong Halloween sales are important to many retailers. So what are the experts saying about this Halloween?
Richard Nguyen, a Digital Marketer at Magestore.com, writes, “In general, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of 2019, Halloween participation rates have decreased significantly. Over 75% of respondents said that COVID-19 affected their Halloween plans. Yet consumers continue to value celebrating traditional holidays, even by non-traditional standards.” The staff at Trendalytics are buoyantly optimistic about this year’s holiday. They write, “The country was in the grips of the second wave of COVID-19 when Halloween 2020 rolled around, resulting in neighborhood grab-and-go trick-or-treat baggies and Zoom costume parties. … This year’s holiday will be met with excitement as vaccine optimism takes hold and consumers embrace the opportunity to be together once more.” Although the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to devastate some parts of the country, the general feeling is that this year’s Halloween celebrations will be better than last year’s celebration. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, “Consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020.” Using the NRF/Prosper Insights findings, Nguyen created the following infographic concerning consumer spending for this year’s Halloween celebration.
Nguyen’s article contains other interesting insights as well. One factor that could affect Halloween celebrations is the weather. And this year’s weather could be, as William Shakespeare wrote, “Double, double toil and trouble.” Below are weather predictions being made by staff members at the Farmers’ Almanac for Halloween night.
Zone 1 – Northeast & New England (New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C.): “Boo! Little ghosts and goblins better bundle up — expect some flakes of wet snow over higher elevations of New England on Halloween.”
Zone 2 – Great Lakes, Ohio Valley & Midwest (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin): “A stormy Halloween for the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, where some wet snow could mix in. Witches, fly carefully!”
Zone 3 – Southeast (Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida): “Scary forecast: expect it to turn stormy.”
Zone 4 – North Central (Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana): “It will be cold in the Rocky Mountains, but farther to the east, expect it to be haunting and stormy for Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Pick a costume that incorporates an umbrella!”
Zone 5 – South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico): “Expect a chilly Halloween, with increasingly cloudy skies and stormy conditions for Arkansas and Louisiana. Watch out for zombies!”
Zone 6 – Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho): “Skies will be fair but it will be turning chillier. How about dressing up as a Sun Valley skier?”
Zone 7 – Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona): “Fair skies for trick-or-treaters but it’s going to be chillier than average so bundle up.”
With the weather looking so sketchy, safety should be a top priority this Halloween. In an email to me, Lauren Cramer, Communications Coordinator at Bankrate.com, noted, “Upwards of 41 million kids go trick-or-treating annually, and over 4,000 Halloween-related injuries occur each year.” She also pointed me to an excellent article by Rick Hoel, an international business attorney, who writes, “No one wants to eliminate the enjoyment and happiness that the fall and holiday season brings to all of us. But … careless planning and failure to take common-sense precautions could lead to a tragedy that would overshadow any holiday joy.” He offers the following safety tips to ensure Halloween is safe and enjoyable:
1. Take the time to ensure your children are safely costumed for trick or treating: “Choose bright colors and flame-retardant materials. If your child will be outdoors after dark, attach reflective tape to his or her costume and treat bag. Size it right. If it’s cold outside, be sure your child’s costume fits loosely enough for warm clothing to be worn underneath — but not long enough to cause tripping. Avoid oversized shoes and high heels that might cause stumbles. Skip the masks. It is critical that your children can see clearly at all times. A mask can obstruct your child’s vision, especially if it slips out of place. Use nontoxic makeup instead. Limit accessories. Pointed props — such as wands, swords and knives — might pose safety hazards.”
2. Have a responsible adult accompany young children on neighborhood walks.
3. If older children are going out alone on Halloween, plan and review a route that you find acceptable.
4. Set a specific time for children to return home.
5. Make sure your children know never to enter a stranger’s car or home.
6. Consider devices that can track your children’s location.
Despite a rosier picture for retailers this Halloween, the holiday is being impacted by the supply snarls that currently abound. As a result, journalist Alex Janin (@AlexLJanin) asserts, “Shoppers seeking witches, ghosts and severed heads to decorate their homes for Halloween are finding something truly scary this year: empty shelves.” Nevertheless, people are more likely to enjoy this Halloween more than last year’s dampened celebration. Author Karen Fortunati describes Halloween as, “The world turned upside down — in a good way — for one black velvet night.” Retailers are certainly hoping that this year’s Halloween celebrations do turn the world upside down in a good way. Nguyen concludes, “The magic of Halloween is transformative, and it brings joy to families, especially for children. For retailers, the pandemic is an unprecedented challenge. But you’ll undoubtedly find creative ways to recreate in some innovative form.”
 Stephanie Osmanski, “Witch, Please—100 of the Creepiest, Crawliest, and Spookiest Halloween Quotes,” Parade Magazine, 20 September 2021.
 Richard Nguyen, “Halloween 2021 Statistics: What Retailers Need To Know?” Magestore.com, October 2021.
 Staff, “Halloween 2021 Forecast,” Trendalytics, 3 May 2021.
 Staff, “2021 Halloween trends,” National Retail Federation, 2021.
 Alex Janin, “The Scariest Part of Halloween This Year Is the Supply Chain,” The Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2021.
 Rick Hoel, “High visibility: Pedestrian and driver safety for driving in the dark,” Bankrate.com, 1 October 2021.