Ghosts, Goblins, and COVID, OH MY!

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Halloween is a time for witch’s brew, ghost and goblins and everything scary in the night. But this year Halloween is more frightening and scarier than ever before as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger across the nation. Last year Americans spent $8.8 billion on candy, costumes, decorations and party supplies for the eerie holiday which has become the third most profitable holiday for business. Like most everything else in 2020, this year’s profits may just be as hard to sight as Casper the ghost and his friends.

Manufacturers and marketers are having to rethink plans for Halloween 2020 as restrictions on events and public gatherings continue to rule the landscape. Traditional trick or treat activities are anticipated to be canceled, reformatted or scaled-back. Some are even suggesting virtual costume events and replacing house-to-house visitations with Trunk or Treat events, small groups gathering in local parking lots and allowing the kids to move between family and friends’ car trunks to receive treats. Originally started by church groups with the aim of providing a safer environment for trick-or-treaters on Halloween, Trunk or Treat events are expected to become much more common in light of the pandemic. Virtual parties, while an obvious alternative, may be akin to receiving permission from Mom and Dad to go to the beach so long as you don’t go near the water; some will say, “what’s the point?”

Candy makers are having to revise holiday strategies this year. With so much emphasis on cleanliness, some are predicting the demise of unwrapped candy, home baked goodies and fruit. More small toys are expected to be seen in the bottom of trickster’s baskets and bags this year. According to the National Confectioners Association, 68% of Americans celebrated Halloween in 2019 and 95% of them purchased candy. Candy manufacturers like Hershey and Mars are switching holiday themed packaging to more generic containers just in case sales falter, but none of the sweets makers are abandoning efforts altogether. Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey Foods, says “We also think that consumers will find creative and safe ways to trick-or-treat. It is an outdoor event, and it’s an event where a lot of masks are already worn. There is no evidence of the virus being passed through packaging or food. So, we feel pretty good based on what we’re seeing so far from consumer feedback.”

Specialty retailer Spirit Halloween, the largest U.S. Halloween store franchise, is opening its stores and featuring a hazmat costume among its line-up. “We are safely preparing the best in-store experience possible and can’t wait to welcome you back at our 1,400 locations.” With a whole population tired of being locked-down, some are predicting a coordinated break-out could result in one of the biggest Halloween holidays ever, a prediction that may be a bit too rosy for some to believe.

Even so, a national survey recently found that 70 percent of families are planning on celebrating Halloween this year, and 35 percent indicated they planned on purchasing costumes for children. Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they intended to go house-to-house trick or treating where it was permitted.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the scariest holiday of the year would be the one day during the scariest year in a century that the frustrated and sequestered masses break-out and let the goblins loose. At Junction Creative Solutions, (Junction) we’re experienced at taking the scary and the tricks out of Halloween marketing efforts. For more information, call 678-686-1125.