Hal­loween: More op­tions for dis­count cos­tumes

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By Anne D’Innocenzio

Shop­ping for Hal­loween cos­tumes doesn’t have to be scary. This year, shop­pers can find more ways to save time and money. Dis­coun­ters like Wal­mart and Tar­get are ex­pand­ing their cos­tume of­fer­ings and cre­at­ing des­ig­nated sec­tions where cus­tomers can find more of their Hal­loween needs in one place. And for the first time, Party City is of­fer­ing an as­sort­ment of Hal­loween cos­tumes on Ama­zon. Party City and oth­ers are ei­ther re­vamp­ing their apps or launch­ing new ones to make shop­ping eas­ier.

And, of course, pop-up shop pi­o­neer Spirit Hal­loween, the largest Hal­loween store fran­chise, is a re­li­able op­tion. It now has about 1,400 tem­po­rary lo­ca­tions in the U.S. and Canada, with more of a pres­ence in the malls.

Mean­while, crafts chain Jo-Ann Stores is now ca­ter­ing to pro­cras­ti­na­tors with a big­ger as­sort­ment of ready-made cos­tumes.

“More re­tail­ers are get­ting into the game,” said Mar­shal Co­hen, chief in­dus­try ad­viser at NPD Group, a mar­ket re­search firm. “Stores are cre­at­ing broader as­sort­ments. And you can get an in­stant cos­tume from start to fin­ish.”

Hal­loween cos­tumes are a big busi­ness for re­tail­ers. Amer­i­cans are ex­pected to spend $9 bil­lion on Hal­loween, slightly down from the $9.1 bil­lion spent last year, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion, the na­tion’s largest re­tail trade group.

Here are five tips: Shop dis­coun­ters: Last year, Tar­get launched a Hal­loween des­ti­na­tion called Hyde & Eek where cus­tomers can find Hal­loween decor and cos­tumes all in one place. It added candy to the shop this year. It also in­creased its cos­tume as­sort­ment by nearly 30 per­cent. On­line, the bulk of the prices for Hal­loween cos­tumes range from $15 to $50. Wal­mart is also pulling to­gether more Hal­loween items into one des­ti­na­tion. It used to only have cos­tumes, decor and makeup in one sec­tion; now, it’s adding Hal­loween candy. And for the first time, Wal­mart cre­ated an on­line shop in the beauty sec­tion to help cus­tomers find com­plete makeup looks for Hal­loween cos­tumes in­spired by DC comics, in­clud­ing Won­der Woman or an Ice Princess. Take ad­van­tage of new apps: Stores are re­vamp­ing apps or adding new ones to make it eas­ier to shop for cos­tumes — and to share. Jo-Ann’s app lets shop­pers share their cos­tumes with friends on so­cial me­dia. And Party City launched a new app called Spook­ify that lets cus­tomers vir­tu­ally try on their cos­tumes and makeup.

Shop late or shop early: If you don’t need to get the hottest cos­tume of the sea­son, it’s best to shop right be­fore Hal­loween to get the best deals of the sea­son. Dis­counts can be up to 50 per­cent. But as NPD’s Co­hen says, “Truly the best time is right af­ter Hal­loween and store it for next year.” That’s when cos­tume prices are slashed by 75 per­cent. Use what you have or buy used: Go to your closet and you’ll most likely find left­overs from past Hal­loweens such as a witch’s hat or a feather from a flap­per’s cos­tume. Or turn your reg­u­lar clothes into cos­tumes. Shop­pers should also turn to thrift stores like Good­will, which of­fers both used and new Hal­loween cos­tumes. Good­will’s web­site has a spe­cial page de­voted to Hal­loween. The site of­fers makeup tu­to­ri­als and shows how shop­pers can cre­ate a cos­tume with up to three items from the thrift chain. Shop­pers can pur­chase a cos­tume in its en­tirety in­clud­ing wig, shoes, and head­bands for an av­er­age price of $30, ac­cord­ing to Lau­ren Law­son-Zi­lai, a Good­will spokes­woman. Do it your­self: You don’t have to have the skills of Martha Ste­wart to make your own cos­tume. Get ideas from Pin­ter­est or Etsy,

orJgo to the on­line sites of o-Ann’s and Michael’s for ideas. JoAnn’s has broad­ened its as­sort­ment to in­clude more ready-made ac­ces­sories like tu­tus. On JoAnn’s on­line site, cus­tomers can find cos­tumes that can be made in an hour or take three weeks and it sep­a­rates the project by age and skill level.

Pho­tos by Brynn An­der­son / As­so­ci­ated Press

Liam Vasquez, 2, and his fa­ther, Will Vasquez, try on Hal­loween masks at a Tar­get de­part­ment store in Pem­broke Pines, Fla. Dis­coun­ters like Wal­mart and Tar­get are ex­pand­ing their cos­tume of­fer­ings.

A cus­tomer checks out var­i­ous items in the Hal­loween sec­tion — called “Hyde and Eek” — at the Pem­broke Pines Tar­get.

Brynn An­der­son / As­so­ci­ated Press

Even a stuffed toy owl can get dressed up like a pump­kin at the “Hyde and Eek” sec­tion at Tar­get.

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