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‘Huge demand’: Supply issues could haunt Halloween amid trick-or-treating resurgence – Canada News


The Halloween mood on Baruch Labunsky’s Toronto street has been eerie for the past two years — and not in the witches and goblins way.

“Throughout the pandemic, no one really put on decorations, no children,” she said.

This year, pumpkins have been sitting on her neighbor’s doorstep since early September, and her son has already picked out a costume.

“It feels like we’re getting back to normal,” he said. “I think Halloween is bigger than ever.”

After two years of Covid-19 restrictions that limited Halloween, Canadians are expected to ramp up their celebrations this year.

But rising commodity prices and ongoing supply chain issues could dampen demand for apparel, confectionery and decorations.

According to new research from the Retail Council of Canada, 86 per cent of Canadians will spend the same or more on Halloween this year compared to last year, with many making purchases a month in advance.

With more than half of Canadians planning to spend more than $50, consumers are willing to stretch their wallets for a trendy new outfit or stock up on candy.

“I think Halloween will be met with great demand,” said Dandy Thomas, an associate professor at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business.

“Halloween spending will reflect the strong consumption behavior we’ve seen in travel and restaurants in recent months. There are a lot of kids who haven’t been trick-or-treating in two years and they’re itching to get out there.”

That being said, Canadians may offer fewer treats, turn off the porch lights early or opt out of Halloween altogether when they sense rising inflation.

Shoppers may feel squeezed by so-called shrinkage in the chocolate aisle — manufacturers putting fewer chips in a bag or candies in a box, but still charging the same price.

“If people are worried about costs and decide not to participate you’ll see more dark houses,” said retail analyst Bruce Winter.

Potentially strong demand combined with current supply chain disruptions could lead to some empty store shelves – especially in October.

Part of the problem facing manufacturers and retailers, Winter said, is that forecasts are unreliable.

“The hardest part of supply chains is predicting demand,” he said. “But it’s very difficult to do that now, because every season is a new way for consumers to behave as they go through the pandemic.”

Depending on how demand unfolds, potential shortages in the chocolate aisle could be particularly acute.

“I think there may be a shortage of supply,” Thomas said. “Retailers will find it difficult to procure inventory, which means there won’t be excessive and deep discounts on November 1.”

Also, running to a drugstore on Halloween night to stock up isn’t an option for people who underestimate the number of trick-or-treaters they’ll get, she said.

Hershey Co. CEO Michele Buck recently said that “capacity is constrained” in some areas of the company’s portfolio.

The maker of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups has prioritized shelf availability of its everyday products to meet growing demand in the area, but has had to cut back on seasonal items, he said.

“We had an opportunity to deliver more Halloween, but we couldn’t,” Buck said during an earnings call in July.

Hershey’s spokeswoman Alison Kleinfelder said despite capacity constraints, the company has made more Halloween candy this year than last year.

But she still recommends shopping early.

“Over the past couple of years, consumers have been buying seasonal candy earlier than in the past,” Kleinfelder said. “It’s often a week before the actual holiday, when seasonal packages are hard to come by.”

Retail Council of Canada spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen said the best advice for consumers is to shop early.

“We’ve heard from some retailers that there were a lot of supply chain challenges with suppliers not being able to deliver the requested quantities with Halloween products this year,” he said.

“This means there may be fewer quantities available for many key Halloween products.”

Labunski, in Toronto, said he’s not worried about the shortage despite an expected Halloween resurgence.

“I think people are going to go out in droves so retailers can sell some popular items,” he said. “But I can buy something else.”

Spirit Halloween, one of the largest retailers of costumes, carries a full assortment of costumes, decorations and accessories.

Steven Silverstein, CEO of Spirit Halloween, said in a statement: “We work year-round to create the look we need, and 2022 is shaping up to be an incredible year.

When it comes to clothing and decorations, Canadians worried about inflation can come up with creative ways to cut costs this year.

“We’ll see some bargaining,” Thomas said. “People can sew a garment by hand or look for a used garment.”

People will also cut back on less essential items, Winter said.

“They can reuse previous years’ decor or shop at Dollarrama to save money.”

‘Huge demand’: Supply issues could haunt Halloween amid trick-or-treating resurgence – Canada News

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