Record sales combined with costume shortages means this year’s Halloween a truly terrifying affair


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Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve lived through toilet paper shortages, food and pet food shortages and even shortages of our favourite bling.


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Now comes word we may not be able to get our hands on our choice of Halloween costume.

Or so says the U.S.-based Halloween and Costume Association, which recently declared there’s an official costume shortage going on in North America — right when both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, not to mention various health officials across Canada — have given trick-or-treating a thumbs-up, with safety measures in place.

Timing is terrible! “The fact that costume and decor sales are up 20-25%, coupled with pandemic-related supply issues, have resulted in empty shelves all across the country,” says a recent press release from the HCA, ( ) which helps develop national campaigns that focus on consumers planning a safe and fun Halloween.

There’s anticipation that Halloween is going to be huge this year, and since it falls on a Sunday will actually be part of a three-day “Halloweekend.”


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People are prepared to spend: According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are looking to fork out a record $10.14 billion on Halloween-related items this year. Other industry types say the figure may be higher once all the parties, costumes, candies and more are factored in.

In Canada, consumers are looking online, but research shows their making their purchases closer to home, and spending in their own backyard. And if there’s one holiday Canadians love, it’s Halloween.

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“It has quickly become one of the largest shopping seasons of the year, with individuals spending upwards of $60 just on their costumes,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, on . According to the Retail Council of Canada, mom and dad are getting just as excited as the kids, with eight out of 10 Canadian parents planning to celebrate the spooky season with their children.


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What will be the most sought-after costumes this year — and the hardest to find? According to Google’s FrightGeist, there’s going to be run on witch, rabbit and dinosaur costumes, along with group costumes and anything that references pop culture.

Lastly, if you haven’t purchased a costume yet, start checking out your favourite local shopping haunts (Winners and Marshalls, for example, carry an astonishing selection of great costumes for the kiddies) or consider making your own. And keep the following trends in mind:

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Ghost Face: Definitely due to all the anticipation surrounding the new Scream sequel coming soon!

Animal costumes: Think rabbits and bunnies, dinosaurs or gorillas.


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Nostalgic costumes: Really popular this year!

Gaming: Be mindful of anything related to Minecraft .

Fantasy and cartoons: Harry Potter is hot, Frozen is a fave and Toy Story has staying power.

Pop Culture: Squid Game is huge, along with favourite musicians and anything to do with social media.

Heroes: Nurses and doctors as well as your standard superheroes.


Halloween’s not just for people! Costumes for your favourite furry friend are incredibly popular — bestsellers include fake lion manes for both dogs and cats, superheroes and three-dimensional costumes that give the appearance your pet is walking upright while dressed as a cowboy and pirate.

That said, pet safety is a priority when out trick-or-treating. According to Caroline Wilde, staff veterinarian at Trupanion medical insurance company for cats and dogs ( ), be proactive this year when planning the party. Wilde offers the following tips on how to trick-or-treat safety tips:


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  1. Candy and chocolate: In a nutshell: No! Chocolate toxicity is one of the most prevalent problems in dogs around this time of year. “Chocolate contains a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. However, unlike people, dogs and cats can’t metabolize this compound, so its stimulant effects are amplified,” Wilde said in a recent press release. “Candy and baked goods containing the sugar substitute xylitol can also be extremely toxic and should be kept away from your pets.”
  2. Pumpkin candles and decorations: Candles can certainly bring the right atmosphere to any Halloween party, but they can also create crisis to any pet whose wagging tail or curious nose gets into the fire.
  3. Pet costumes: They’re so cute, but they must be comfortable and not a hassle when you put one on your pet. And if they don’t want to wear it for a TikTok, Instagram or Twitter photo, don’t put them through the grief and anxiety.
  4. Trick-or-treat visitors: Keep in mind, all added noise and commotion can be stressful for your pets. Unless they’re used to lots of strangers being around, keep your pets isolated during the festivities.
  5. Visible and identifiable: Never leave your pet unsupervised, but in case your dog or cat darts outside, “make sure they have on a reflective collar for visibility and proper identification attached to that collar to help get you reunited with your pet if needed. Getting your pet microchipped can help ensure your pet’s safe return,” Wilde said in her statement.


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Trick or treat Halloween bag.
Trick or treat Halloween bag. Photo by shelma1 /Getty Images


Candy’s big business this time of year. Last year’s sales were soft for obvious reasons, but Forbes is reporting sweet treats are a very brisk business this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween spending survey, around $3 billion US is expected to be spent on candy this year with more than $10 billion US expected to be shelled out on the entire holiday.

“Candy is the centre of the Halloween night ritual,” Ben George, a content strategist at was quoted as saying on

“It’s the ostensible reason why kids dress up in costumes, even if the fun of it all is the true reason.”

Canada’s top favourite Halloween candy to be dropped in the trick-or-treat bag? According to , Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups top the list, followed by Skittles, M&Ms, Starburst, Snickers, Mars and Kit Kat.



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