Although it will be up to individual families to decide how and if they will participate in Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health says trick or treat.
“In terms of Halloween, Public Health does not have significant concerns regarding door-to-door trick or treating,” said Danny Williamson, communications specialist with WDG Public Health. “However, we would strongly discourage large Halloween gatherings.”
A non-cancelling of trick or treating is good news for local retailer The Party Corner. Owner Missy Morrow told GuelphToday a significant portion of the store’s sales come in around Halloween.
Morrow said everybody knows Halloween is going to be different this year.
“But one thing I have learned through all of this COVID madness that has been going on is that people aren’t letting things pass without celebrating in some way. What is making me happy is they are finding new creative ways to do it,” said Morrow.
She points to the many birthday parades that occurred over the spring and summer months to try and bring some level of normalcy to the lives of local kids.
“You can’t stop things like birthdays,” said Morrow. “I think it will be the same deal with Halloween. People are going to find a way to do it.”
Morrow said trick or treating could be managed with physical distancing in mind.
“You can put the candy here and stand over there and the kids can come one at a time to get their candy, no big deal,” said Morrow.
Morrow said she rented many costumes out for birthdays and has taken some reservations already for Halloween. All rented costumes are deep cleaned before going back out for a new rental, which was the store’s practice even before COVID-19.
“I am very akin to June Cleaver, because my whole life is just laundry and sewing,” said Morrow. “I do all the costume repairs, I make a lot of them myself and when they come back they stay in a seperate area until they are cleaned and sanitized so the costumes never intermingle.”
Morrow said she believes renting costumes is a more environmentally friendly way to celebrate Halloween.
“Everybody is doing the environmental thing by getting rid of straws to help the turtles and that kind of thing and this is just us doing our part,” said Morrow.
Thrift retailer Value Village did not bring in its usual racks of new Halloween costumes to sell this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options on the sales floor.
“While our stores are not offering a selection of new Halloween merchandise this season, shoppers will continue to find pre-loved costume pieces, accessories and home decor,” said Sara Gaugl, director of communications for Value Village by email.
Spirit Halloween is currently setting up shop in the former Mark’s store in the Edinburgh Market Place plaza with an expected opening date of October 1.
General manager Dave Buckle told GuelphToday the store would usually be open by now, but because there was no vacancy at the Stone Road Mall this year it had to wait for the Mark’s space to open up when that retailer opened its new store across the street.
Unlike Value Village, Spirit Halloween is expecting Halloween to continue to bring in big business this year.
“Our inventory buy is as big as it was last year. We are forecasting sales to be on par with what we thought they were going to be before this COVID outbreak and we are moving forward,” said Buckle.
Spirit Halloween is bringing on about 50 employees for the time it is open, said Buckle.
He said trick or treating can be done responsibly in the time of COVID-19.
“There would be a way. I think everybody is fairly conditioned now to respect the distancing rules, even the little ones,” said Buckle. “I think the kids have been dying to have something to do after being locked in the house for months now. This is a good outlet for everybody.”
One thing Buckle has noticed at the other Spirit Halloween stores he operates that are already open, like in Kitchener, Ancaster and Brantford, is that sales of home decor pieces have been a bright spot.
“There has been an uptick in home decor, for sure there has been an increase there,” said Buckle.
Morrow said she hopes the emphasis people put on shopping local when it came to the restaurant industry during the pandemic will translate for her business.
“We went way out of our way to support the other local businesses in Guelph that needed us and we plugged them and hope they will plug us,” said Morrow. “I am hoping everybody in Guelph will rememeber that shopping local this Halloween is more important than ever.”