Make Your Halloween Purchases “Fright” Free

October 13, 2017

Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York urges consumers to be savvy and cautious when shopping for Halloween deals including those at pop-up retail stores and online sites.

“With Halloween coming up quickly, those of us who haven’t yet purchased costumes and other holiday items may be tempted to buy quickly without taking all the steps needed to help ensure a scare-free experience,” says Claire Rosenzweig, CEO and President of Metro New York BBB.  “If you are having anything shipped, be sure you understand the shipping time-frame so that your purchase will be on your doorstep before the ghosts and goblins demanding treats.”

Each year, Americans spend more money on Halloween and this year probably won’t disappoint. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are projected to spend $9.1 billion in 2017 on Halloween decorations, costumes and accouterments. NFR estimates a record number of adults – 5.8 million – plan to dress in costume this year. And, 16 percent of people plan on dressing their pet in a costume this year.

Approximately 47 percent of shoppers will visit discount stores and 38 percent will go to a specialty Halloween store, estimates NFR.  When shopping at a pop-up or temporary Halloween store, especially at the last minute, it’s important to use caution. Consumers need to be aware of retail red flags and read the fine print to avoid nightmares with fly-by-night costume vendors. 

Here are some tips to make sure your Halloween is free of unwanted horror stories:

  • Research the company. Look for full contact information on the seller’s website, including a phone number, email, and a street address. Check out the company on before doing business. 
  • Read all terms and conditions carefully before you buy. Know the refund policy. Some stores may have time limits for returns or only provide store credit for returns. Many stores, however, have an “all sales final” policy for seasonal merchandise. Make sure the total cost and any shipping and handling charges are clearly outlined.
  • Ask how long a store will operate. If you’re buying from a seasonal pop-up store, ask whether they will be open after the holiday and if they will accept returns. Seasonal and temporary stores have the same responsibilities as other stores: they must prominently display their refund and return policies.
  • Pay by credit card rather than cash. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.
  • Guard your personal information. If you are buying online, only provide your credit card information in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” in the URL to be sure that the site you are using is secure.
  • Keep documentation. Always save copies of the order confirmation and receipts.
  • Examine your costume as soon as it arrives. If it doesn’t fit or isn’t what was ordered, contact the seller right away or before the time frame noted in their terms and conditions.
  • Read the fine print when renting a costume. Understand the penalties if damage occurs, whether it must be cleaned before return, costs, etc. 
  • Before buying, consumers should check a company’s track record at
  • Scams can be reported at


About BBB Serving Metropolitan New York

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the regional, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922.  Please visit or for more information.