October is usually the month that Halloween store owners look forward to all year round. Adult customers often spend well over $100 on costumes and accessories as they prepare for parties or haunted pub crawls. But with many of these social events now canceled due to the pandemic, Halloween stores are struggling to make up this essential source of revenue. At Lorenzo Caltagirone’s Virginia costume shop, for instance, sales are down 80 percent. “I’ve never been this worried before,” said Caltagirone. “After all these years of business, this Halloween could actually be the one that puts me out.”
Analysts expect that consumer spending this Halloween season will drop by 8 percent to about $8 billion. While people are still buying spooky decorations and children’s costumes, these items aren’t nearly as profitable for stores as adult costumes. “Halloween is a make-or-break time for smaller seasonal retailers,” said economist Diane Swonk. “They wait all year for October. Now the pandemic is going to put many of them back an entire year, if not more.”
Business is especially bad in locations that depend heavily on tourists to drive sales. For example, Kharolina Lampe operates a costume shop in Honolulu that normally rents out hundreds of outfits to vacationers. With Hawaii largely free of tourists, however, she has yet to receive an order this year. “The economy has been so bad,” said Lampe. “Just about every other costume shop in Honolulu went out of business a while back — and I probably should have too, to be honest.”
- Do you think struggling seasonal stores like costume shops should receive some sort of relief? Why or why not?
- Why are Halloween sales especially low in places that depend on tourists?