Spending on Halloween festivities this year is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, with approximately 69% of consumers planning to participate in a Halloween-related activity, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Total consumer spending is expected to reach a record $10.6 billion, as revelers stock up on candy, costumes and Halloween decorations. Seasonal pop-up stores are opening their doors and many shoppers are actively searching for the perfect costume online, while others are breaking open their Halloween storage boxes and piecing together their 2022 costumes or creating new ones from scratch.
While many families prepare for Halloween festivities, concerns about inflation rates are still prevalent and many consumers are taking steps to cut costs by comparatively shopping for the best deals online or shopping at discount stores. The NRF’s 2022 Halloween Spending Survey found that 40% of Halloween shoppers plan to shop at discount stores and 31% plan to shop online. While online shopping is a great way to find a large variety of products and the ‘perfect costume,’ reports to BBB Scam Tracker describe multiple interactions in 2021 where shoppers were taken advantage of by fraudulent sellers.
One Texas resident paid $120 for a costume from the popular Netflix show Squid Games that they found while scrolling TikTok. After receiving an initial confirmation email, the consumer never received their product or a promised tracking number and the following month, “tried contacting the seller multiple times about a refund and cancellation. At first, they replied and said my order was still being processed but stopped replying after I continued to follow up with them. I can’t figure out how to get my money back.”
To save money and avoid online scams this Halloween, Better Business Bureau recommends the following tips:
Look around your home
Check your closet. There may be hidden surprises to throw together a winning costume! Doing this will not only help save money but save space as well. Crafting your own costume at home is also a great way to involve family members or friends in the process.
Rent a costume
If the idea of spending money on buying a costume isn’t quite appealing because you will only wear it once, consider renting. Renting a costume leaves room in the budget, and it truly is only temporary. Research rental companies on BBB.org and be sure to inspect the condition of the costume and read the rental agreement carefully before signing anything.
Buy in bulk
It may seem counter-intuitive, but buying more can save you money! Buying in bulk lessens the cost per item and ounce. Bulk buying can be convenient on a night like Halloween when there might be more trick-or-treaters out this year. Factory-wrapped candy will last even if not all of it is given to trick-or-treaters.
Always check the return policy
Seasonal shops carry unique items for a short time in a temporary location or online. When shopping at this type of vendor, understand the store’s return policy before making a purchase. Find out how long purchasers must keep the receipt or what happens if it is misplaced. Verifying store policies will help avoid mishaps like unwanted, broken, or faulty items being non-refundable. Remember: Buying a bunch of products with the intent of simply returning it after Oct. 31 is considered fraud.
Shop smart online
BBB recommends consumers use a credit card for online purchases instead of a debit card, as credit cards provide additional protection and fraudulent charges are easier to dispute. Visit BBB.org/AvoidScams for more tips on shopping online.
If you decide to shop from a seasonal store, ask if they will be open after the holiday, how long they plan to stay open, and if they will accept returns after Halloween is over. If they plan to close on Nov. 1 or refuse returns after, either consider shopping elsewhere or take more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.
More tips for seasonal “pop-up” stores:
- Ask the owner if there is a website in case you have to contact them later.
- Save every receipt.
- Use a credit card to dispute problem charges with the card’s issuer.
- Make sure you are clear on what items are ‘FINAL SALE.’
Attending a special event or visiting a haunted house
Before purchasing tickets, research the group offering the experience and make sure that there are no complaints about the company hosting the event. BBB recommends consumers spend the time to research the event or company hosting the haunted house by:
- Checking out the company at BBB.org. Read what previous customers have to say and see how the business responds to complaints.
- Checking BBB Scam Tracker and see if other consumers have filed a report about the event host.
- Searching the business online by adding the word “Complaint”, “Reviews” or “Scam” after their name for different results.
For more tips on buying tickets, visit BBB.org.