They appeared just after Labor Day. Pop-up retail stores in strip malls and indoor centers dedicated wholly to the evening of October 31st.
Pop-up retail is not for the faint of heart. It involves a certain amount of portability in terms of inventory and fixtures, but you’re still installing cash registers and point of sale terminals, hiring staff and presumably obtaining liability insurance; all with a less than 60-day sales window.
In the U.S. and Canada, there is now big money in Halloween. It doubled between 2005 and 2011 in a way that other holidays did not. But numbers vary with each survey. A Forbes survey had it fourth, but had Thanksgiving second — food, no doubt being factored in — while a National Retail Federation survey for the same time period didn’t mention Thanksgiving at all, but listed “Winter Holidays” followed by Mother’s Day, Valentines Day and Easter. A more recent NRF study had October 31st dead last, by a large margin, and trailing — any guesses? — the Super Bowl.
It eclipses Christmas for many families and neighborhoods in terms of decoration and the participation of children. This year, having the holiday on a Friday night means some people may buy two costumes for two weekend parties.
Even within the broader Church, there are people who are totally unaware of All Saints Day, the feast day that follows on November 1st. But in some conservative quarters, and also some not-so-conservative Evangelicals, an anti-Halloween movement started perhaps 20 years ago. On this topic, I wrote:
…Of all the things that we could NOT do when I was younger — card playing, Sunday shopping, dancing, etc. that we now CAN DO; it’s interesting that there is this one unique area where we COULD do something years ago that now Evangelicals feel we can NOT do…
Taking my kids out trick-or-treating when they were younger was something that I sometimes I had to do rather low-key, as the winds of change among my church community were already blowing.
But this year, for the second time, we’re probably skipping participation in terms of handing out goodies as well. Our neighborhood has grown up somewhat; or perhaps we’re reacting to the mega-industry Oct. 31st has become and are simply trying to maintain a distinct identity.
Redeeming the holiday: A preaching series tied to Halloween.