Halloween Calls For Responsibility


Each year during the Halloween season, children put on costumes to become a princess, witch, zombie, super hero or cartoon character and spend the evening trick-or-treating with their friends. Some kids will go to Halloween parties in their community and bob for apples, listen to scary stories, carve pumpkins or run through haunted houses.

While such Halloween activities may vary across the country, one thing is certain: Many adults also join in the Halloween festivities and attend costume parties, dances and other social gatherings. As with most things, though, this will be a different Halloween because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Forty-two percent of American adults say they’ll observe Halloween in 2020, down from 57 percent a year ago, according to polling by Morning Consult. Seventeen percent of respondents said that while they plan to celebrate Halloween this year, festivities will be smaller than normal; 13 percent of all adults said they plan to engage in a Halloween celebration, but will limit the number of people with whom they interact.

Spending on Halloween is expected to fall this year, from $8.8 billion in 2019 to $8 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Permit holders should remind their customers who make the decision to drink on Halloween to choose a designated driver. Reminding customers to be responsible could save their lives and the lives of others. According to statistics from the law firm Edgar Snyder & Associates, 44 percent of fatal crashes during Halloween weekend — and 38 percent on Halloween night — involved a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of .08 or higher. Additionally, 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night include a drunken driver.

If no designated driver is available, urge customers to call a taxi, ride service, friend or family member.

There are a number of point-of-sale pieces available for retailers which can help spread the responsibility message.

It also is important for permit holders to be diligent when checking customers’ IDs. The largest majority of adults who celebrate Halloween, according to NRF, are adults aged 18-34. The 15 percent of that group who are under the legal drinking age, coupled with underage teens out looking for illegal fun, means the odds are good permit holders and their employees will be faced with a potential underage sale.

Permit holders also should remember that Halloween brings not only the opportunity for increased business, but also the chance that anti-alcohol activists will trot out their protests of holiday point-of-sale. In past years, anti-alcohol supporters have argued that Halloween promotional materials at the point of sale increase underage drinking and highway accidents. They also have used that argument to pressure retailers into removing Halloween-themed POS.

It is a permit holder’s right to possess any legal point-of-sale, so any effort to infringe upon those rights must be met with an outright refusal to give up promotional materials.

Halloween is not just a night for children. It also is one of the most celebrated holidays by adults. There is nothing wrong with encouraging customers to have fun and enjoy their “fright night” festivities through point-of-sale and special promotions. But it is important to make sure those who choose to drink do so responsibly and choose alternative transportation home, and that retailers act responsibly by diligently verifying the ages of their customers during the Halloween season.