Retailers are worried. Me too. Already economists are predicting a coal-in-the-stocking kind of holiday shopping season. There won’t be much Ho, Ho, Ho this Christmas.
We know that the economy is in the tank and that it’s not just Wall Street Fat Cats who are suffering. The only thing grinning this Halloween may be the Jack-o-Lanterns. Our kids may see much lighter trick-or-treat bags. Gone are the days when neighbors distributed full-sized candy bars to the doorbell ringers. Look for mini-candy bars, one to a customer, but please, this is no time for raisin boxes. Chocolate-induced endorphins are definitely in order.
Until this economic downturn, Halloween has been a retailers dream. In 2007, Halloween-related merchandise sales were up 10 percent from the previous year, which had seen a record 22 percent growth from 2005. But now, we’re all tightening our belts and reconsidering our costume options. How about one of the fashion catastrophes from my closet, with a cardboard sign that says "Glamour Don't"? Jackets with shoulders that could have rivaled any professional linebacker – whatever was I thinking?
One retail executive suggested that “consumers who have been anxious and uncertain for the past several months may be looking at Halloween as an opportunity to forget the stresses of daily life and just have a little fun.” I sure hope so, but frankly it sounds like wishful thinking to me.
I’m not suggesting that we dress our kids in costumes of sackcloth and ashes. Surely, we need some fun, especially under current conditions. But this is an opportunity to scale down a holiday that seems to be getting out of control. So let’s focus more on the highjinks, and less on the over-the-top decorations. Let’s encourage our kids imaginations and help them make costumes, instead of buying them.
The economy has played enough tricks on us; but we can put the treat back into October 31.
What are you planning for Halloween -- and what kind of candy do you hand out?