Myriya Bates and Shoney Henry stood in the aisle at Party Time, discussing how to decorate a plastic cauldron for Halloween.

Henry, who was holding a vampire costume Wednesday afternoon, wanted to attach spiders to the cauldron. “We’re getting all this good stuff to decorate,” he said. The couple plan to host a small Halloween party Saturday for family and friends and they want to make sure things look right.

“There are a lot of people here getting decorations,” Bates said. “People are coming out of their houses and they’re doing more.”

After being cooped up for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems like this year people are making more plans for Halloween. Donna Travis, who owns Party Time, said her sales are up 25% this year over last year.

“It’s the combination of a Saturday Halloween and people are ready to party,” she said. “It’s a great excuse to have a celebration.”

But people are still taking into account the very real danger of the coronavirus pandemic, Travis said. She’s seen a run on gift bags, for people who want to hand out treats and limit contact with others. And Halloween-themed face masks are popular this year, along with the typical masks that are typically found on the shelves.

“People are doing a lot of celebrating at home,” she said.

The National Retail Federation is projecting Halloween spending will drop from nearly $8.8 billion in 2019 to about $8.1 billion because fewer people plan on participating in events to mark the holiday.

But the people who are doing up Halloween this year are spending more money. The federation projects spending will increase from an average of $86.27 in 2019 to $92.12 as people buy more candy and decorations.

The Centers for Disease Control said to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus during trick-or-treating, individually bagged treats should be given outdoors, with frequent handwashing or sanitizing. You should stay at least six feet apart from people that don't live with you. Cloth masks should be worn as part of a costume, not under a costume mask, because that could make breathing more difficult. And anyone who has COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus should not hand out candy or go trick-or-treating. 

For people who want low-risk ways to celebrate Halloween, the CDC recommends pumpkin carving with household members, decorating your house or watching scary movies at home with family. 

At the Ultimate Party Store in Denham Springs, assistant manager Theresa Wiley said she’s seen a sharp increase in business. “We’re selling twice as much as we did last year,” she said. Costumes are big sellers, especially those related to the Toy Story movies, she said.

Kirt Barnett, who was shopping at Party Time with his daughters, Katie and Kennedy, said his family would mark Halloween like they normally do. “We’re going to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood for about an hour,” he said. “We’re not going to have any parties because they’re young.”

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Nelson Maddox, who owns Parties Start Here off Perkins Road, said he doesn’t know what his Halloween sales will look like. Maddox said the majority of his sales happen in the three or four days before the holiday. 

Maddox had to place orders for Halloween items early this year, right around the time the coronavirus pandemic was starting to make an impact. So he ordered “very little” and is relying on inventory he already had on hand.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We should be OK.”

While children are still going to go trick-or-treating around their neighborhoods, there’s been a reduction in big events for college students and adults, Maddox said. The costume parties that typically spill out into the parking lots of Tigerland bars or across downtown are being scaled back to comply with the capacity requirements.

Amber Bertinot, who was looking at leggings at Party Time, said her family and friends were trying to organize a hayride for Halloween. Bertinot was going as the Joker, her friend was dressing as Catwoman and she was trying to convince her brother, Deven, to go as Batman.

“We’re trying to do a little more this year,” Amber said.

“We haven’t let the pandemic stop us,” Deven said. “Just put on your mask and roll with it.”


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.