Halloween is approaching, but the public is unsure of whether normal holiday activities are safe enough to continue in the face of the pandemic. This has created uncertainty among businesses who want to serve their customers this season, but people are coming up with adaptations to carry on with Halloween celebrations safely, and 63% of Americans say they intend to celebrate. Businesses can take steps to support masked, outdoor, or virtual efforts to carry on celebrations safely.
Attending crowded indoor parties is considered one of the highest-risk holiday activities by the CDC. Virtual parties on Zoom can let people dress up in costumes and celebrate together without physical contact. The National Retail Federation’s survey found that 46% of people intend to dress up in costumes this year, close to last year’s percentage. Businesses that sell costumes and accessories can still expect to do business with partygoers in mind. They can also promote indoor Halloween decorations that people can show off to their friends virtually and compete to create the best backdrop. Carving pumpkins is another activity that can be done virtually to share and compete with the resulting jack o’ lanterns.
Businesses can get customers excited about virtual events by posting about them on social media and providing tips for taking part. Candy companies such as Mars and Hershey reported targeting customers with smaller-sized bags of candy instead of large packages, expecting a Halloween where the celebration continues even with fewer large gatherings.
Decorating the outside of your home with spooky themes has always been a Halloween tradition, and outdoor decorations have gotten more impressive in recent years with affordable animatronics, inflatables, projections, and more.
This year, decorating houses take on greater importance since it’s a method of expression that can be done in a socially distant way and can be appreciated by people passing by on foot or driving by on the road. Just as people spending more time at home have spent time on home improvement projects, they can also take more of an interest in holiday decorating. The National Retail Federation’s survey found that 53% of people intended to decorate their home this Halloween, up from 49% last year.
Stores can contribute by selling creative and exciting decorations. To advertise them, physical stores should consider dressing up their locations for Halloween, and online stores and mobile apps should promote their stock on their front page several weeks in advance with fast shipping since people like to have their houses decorated for all of October. Encourage customers to post their displays on social media to impress others.
Outdoor Costume Displays and Parades
In addition to parties, there are other ways to celebrate outdoors. The CDC guidelines say that an open-air costume parade with 6 feet between individuals can be a moderately safe event. Marching around a neighbourhood in costume can be the safest and most fun alternative to a party in a confined space. Kids and adults can take part in costume parades and share pictures and videos online.
Safe Trick-or-Treating tools
According to a survey from Party City, 96% of parents still plan to celebrate Halloween this year, but 70% are seeking alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating. The CDC considers traditional trick-or-treating a high-risk activity and encourages alternatives. The NRF’s survey found that 7% fewer people intend to hand out candy, and 6% fewer will go trick-or-treating, but many others want to continue.
There are different approaches to making it as safe as possible. Reverse trick-or-treating where kids wait in costumes by their houses while adults drive by to give out candy, or if they line up while socially distant and march by adults handing out individually-packaged candy, is considered a moderate risk in comparison. Leaving candy on the porch for kids can avoid unneeded contact, and some have made ‘candy chutes’ to deliver candy out of the house.
Businesses can help make trick-or-treating safer: candy sellers can promote varieties that are easy to divide into individual portions, and stores can offer baskets and bowls that can be filled and set outside. Socially distanced trick-or-treating can be enhanced by more exciting themed decoration displays that visitors need to pass by.
Many costumes already contain masks or face coverings, but the CDC advises against relying on costume masks unless they meet the standards of two-layer cloth masks that would otherwise be recommended. They also advise against wearing two masks at once, since that could interfere with breathing. For businesses to ensure the safety of their customers, avoid giving the impression that decorative masks are safe, and instead try to sell protective masks designed around Halloween themes.
While business is expecting a drop in some areas, the fundamental sales areas of costumes, candy, and decorations are still in demand this Halloween season. Good marketing that acknowledges the unique situation and accounts for the limitations on festivities this year can yield great sales for holiday necessities.