What will Halloween be like in 2020? A recent article by the National Retail Federation quoted their annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics as showing that “more than 148 million U.S. adults plan to participate in Halloween-related activities. Among those celebrants, safe at-home activities ranked highest: 53 percent plan to decorate their homes, 46 percent plan to carve a pumpkin and 18 percent will dress up their pet.”  These numbers are slightly higher than usual – but the survey predicts a decrease in handing out candy, throwing a party, and visiting a haunted house. 

Trick or treating at the businesses in our shopping district has been growing in popularity over the past few years, but that’s not an option during COVID-19.  Our dog costume parade – a fundraiser for the local humane society – is sadly also not going to happen.

Instead, we are going to focus on decorating our streetscape with fall decor in order to give our area a seasonal feeling.  Some communities, including Winsted, CT, have held a Halloween window painting contest in past years to make their Main Street festive.  The participants were grade school children working in teams, which might be a challenge with social distancing. But it might be possible to have a competition that is open to family members sheltering together.

The village of Cary, IL is planning to go ahead with a pumpkin carving contest in Lions Park, with everyone bringing their own pumpkin and tools. A shopping district or mall could sponsor a contest with finished pumpkins being delivered over a period of time (or by appointment) to be judged and displayed together. Here’s a fun idea: offer a special prize for the best COVID-19 themed pumpkin. 

We may not see traditional trick or treating, but that doesn’t mean that kids won’t get dressed up in costumes – and expect candy.  One alternative to door to door visits is the idea of “Trunk or Treat”, in which parents park their cars in a location such as a parking lot, and open their trunks for neighborhood candy-seekers.  The thematic decorating of the car trunks is a relatively new opportunity for selling Halloween decor. Take a look at some of the impressive examples in this Good Housekeeping article.

Let’s hope that by Halloween 2021, the only masks we see are on cute little kids!

Happy Retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroede

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