EDITORIAL: Adults taking over Halloween

Number of children trick-or-treating is on downswing, adult costume purchases up

Iconic imagery of Halloween tends to be ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns and all things creepy and frightening, but it’s also the sounds of little kids at the door shouting “trick-or-treat” and collecting candy.

But our favourite non-statutory holiday is changing, for better or worse, from a kid-centric night to a big party weekend for adults to blow off steam as an alter-ego.

For people that think there are fewer kids coming around their neighbourhood to collect candy, they’re probably right. Kids of trick-or-treating age peaked more than a decade ago and has steadily declined (about 3.7 million now versus 4.1 million in 2002, according to Statistics Canada).

Instead, places like Value Village and innumerable Halloween pop-up stores are seeing steady year-over-year growth in ready-made adult Halloween costumes and spooky paraphernalia. A Scotiabank poll estimates on average B.C.’ers will spend more than $80 per person for Halloween get-up and candy, making the scariest night of the year a popular and healthy business.

Candy sales in October across Canada are the clear winner at $360 million last year, but costumes sales and rentals nearly doubled over the past few years to a $40-million business.

Like the evolving nature of Halloween, annual mayhem and property damage has largely gone down across Greater Victoria thanks to many municipalities regulating and imposing safety courses on people using fireworks, or banning fireworks altogether.

Police departments maintain a heavy presence on the roads during Halloween and its closest weekend (Saanich police say Halloween beats out New Year’s Eve for call volume), but fewer fireworks and stronger enforcement has meant a drop in fire department callouts.

Some people may grumble about a nanny state and taking their explosive fun away, but taxpayers benefit when their emergency services aren’t spending the night chasing spot fires from Roman candles.

Thursday night little ghouls will be walking the neighbourhoods, but Halloween only really becomes scary when the big ghouls misbehave.

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