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Will COVID haunt Halloween sales?

New survey conducted by Field Agent looks at planned purchases and expectations around trick-or-treating

Shutterstock/Leena RobinsonShutterstock/Leena Robinson

Halloween is just two months away, and with the coronavirus still certain to be a significant concern across the country by then, it seems inevitable the holiday will be very different this year—just like everything else about 2020.

Canadian consumer research firm Field Agent has presented a forecast for just how different based on a survey of 1,887 Canadians who were asked about planned purchases and expectations about trick-or-treating.

At this point just 61% of kids under 18 will be going door to door in search of candy, down from 83% a year ago.

And when they go, many will be taking very 2020 style precautions: 70% will be packing hand sanitizer and 58% will be wearing face masks, aside from the scary kind, and 47% will be wearing gloves.

With fewer people planning on going trick-or-treating, fewer people also say they’ll be handing out candy this year: 53% of households, compared to 65% a year ago.

Not surprisingly, with reduced expectations around trick-or-treating, shoppers are also likely to spend less on Halloween treats. Last year the average household spent about $51.25 on candy, but this year people expect to spend about $44.27, a drop of 14% from 2019.

In terms of the kinds of treats handed out, the favourites from last year remain the favourites this year, though there is some signs of differences this year.

Chocolate (76% this year compared to 79% last year), candy (52% and 54%) and chips (40% and 38%) remain the top three favourites.

However, there is more interest in handing out more “better for you” treats this year, with 7% of respondents planning to hand them out compared to 4% last year.

And while just 2% of people gave out homemade treats a year ago, 4% say they will do so this year. Must be all that extra baking everyone has been doing the past five months.

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