Monday, October 20, 2008


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?

Evelyn David


  1. No sackcloth and ashes? Where does that leave me? Great post, Evelyn. I'm going to buck convention and hand out full-sized candy bars...we only get a handful of kids every year and everyone needs a little pick-me-up (or a big one). Maggie

  2. No one ever comes down our lane for a trick-or-treat handout. It's too dark and we have too many dogs.

    And to top it off, my son (grown up 40 plus year-old) mounted one of those flying dinosaurs ontop of his porch. It looks like it's ready to swoop down and attack.


  3. Evelyn, we always buy candy to give out, but we haven't had any kids come by the house in the past two years since we moved in! Maybe being on a cul-de-sac with just seven houses that originates off a very busy street cuts down on kid-traffic (understandably!). But I'll buy candy again, either Snickers bars or a bag of Reese's PB cups, as that's what my hubby likes to eat and he takes all leftovers to work. Which basically means, I'm buying candy for him this Halloween.

  4. We have gotten as few as 80 and as many as 260 TOTers in the past 9 Halloweens we've been in this house. Our first year was the 80 but the last few years have averaged just a bit over 200!

    We have a big old inflated Frankenstein on our covered porch that we actually got as an anniversary gift some years ago. We put out a few jack-o-lanterns adn some light strings around that. One rope spider web with a big fake black widow spider. That's sort of it for decor.

    For treats I go sort of big. The kids LOVE the little treat bags I do, but last year I was so busy I went with PEZ dispensers, instead. This year's treat bag will have two pieces of candy (Halloween organge mini-KitKat bars and mini-Blow Pop bites) and a small (2 inch) Halloween themed Rubber Ducky. Too cute.

    I know it's over board, but I always loved Halloween and the kids get such a kick from these special treats. They squeal with delight. Some of them sit on the porch step and get their pix taken with our big Frankenstein, who is more cartoon-ish than scarey.

    I really feel like making an extra effort at Halloween is part of my civic duty, it feels like good neighbor behavior, like putting something good into my community.

  5. Vicky, wow, I want to come to Halloween at YOUR house. I think it sounds great!

    THE DEBS (Random House)