I visited a Halloween store during the pandemic to see what it was like as Americans prepare to spend a projected $8 billion celebrating the holiday

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Spirit Halloween stores pop up for the season every year, coronavirus or not. I visited one of the chain’s more than 1,000 locations near Rochester, NY to see what a Halloween store is like in the midst of a pandemic.

An estimated 58% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation, and they plan to spend just over $US90 per person. This amounts to over $US8 billion in planned spending, a high point in the “second wave of the retail apocalypse.”

Spirit CEO Steven Silverstein said that when the company announced it would still open stores this year, he knew Halloween was an”outlet for escape.” He also noted that retail performance over Halloween could be a predictor of the rest of the holiday season.


Read more: Holiday shopping season started early this year. Here’s a checklist to prepare your business for marketing, inventory, shipping, and customer service.

Spirit Halloween, full of skeletons and undead monster costumes, was oddly enough the only sign of life in an otherwise empty strip mall. Despite changes in how Halloween can safely be celebrated this year, customers in the store mostly told me that they planned to dress up.


I visited the store on a Tuesday afternoon, unsure how busy it would be because it was still normal working hours.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

I was surprised to find that the popup store was nearly the only sign of life in the otherwise empty strip mall.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

From the outside, banners and lack of more permanent signs give Spirit a popup, temporary feeling.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Inside, though, it didn’t look very different from any other year.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Markings on the floor told people where to stand to maintain social distancing, but the big warehouse style store means it’s easy to keep your distance.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

It’s hard to tell because everyone is standing so far apart, but the checkout line was actually long.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

The other main reminder that we’re living in a pandemic were signs all over asking customers not to try on masks.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Fitting rooms were also closed because of the virus.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the mask you purchase hasn’t been touched by others.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

As usual, much of the store was dedicated to timely pop culture costumes and decor, although movie releases have mostly been postponed or moved to streaming this year.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Costumes from Netflix series Stranger Things got their own display.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Costumes from Tiger King, a Netflix series popular early on in the pandemic, were an obvious choice, too.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Karen costumes continue to sell, based on the meme about problematic white women.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Source: Business Insider


Not all the pop culture costumes were especially new, like these jackets from 2019 “The Joker.”

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

“Ricky and Morty” and the iconic Pickle Rick made an appearance.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Customers could check out an entire wall of decor inspired by the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus.”

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

Because it’s 2020, of course there are Biden and Trump masks for sale.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

An emoji mask is another fitting representation for this year.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

After visiting Spirit, I’m convinced holiday specialty stores will survive the pandemic better than anyone.

Mary Meisenzahl/Business InsiderSpirit Halloween store.

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