ACROSS FLORIDA — Halloween may look and feel different this year due to coronavirus safety protocols, but a majority of parents polled say they feel it's important for kids to celebrate the holiday and plan to take their children trick-or-treating this year.
A poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the National Confectioners Association found that 63 percent of adults believe people will find creative, fun and safe ways to celebrate the Halloween season this year.
Americans are looking forward to Halloween to add some normalcy and fun to what has been a serious and uncertain time. In a poll conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the NCA, 74 percent of millennial moms and young parents say Halloween is more important than ever this year.
"Consumers report that they will be getting creative throughout the month of October to make sure that they can stay safe and still enjoy the Halloween season," said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. "The results of our research reveal a deeply rooted enthusiasm for Halloween, even if it means that people have to rethink their approach this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Recently, a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide guidance on how communities can safely celebrate Halloween this year, citing many of the concepts outlined on Halloween Central, an online resource page with suggestions from NCA members.
“With Halloween Central, we are inspiring parents to get creative as they balance the fun and enjoyment of the Halloween season with the uncertainty that many are experiencing nationwide,” Downs said. “I look forward to seeing the fun, creative and, most importantly, safe ways families and their friends develop new traditions to celebrate the Halloween season this year.”
Many communities are planning traditional trick-or-treating tours around the neighborhood with children, parents and residents masking up, keeping groups small (fewer than six people) and social distancing. In one parent blog, a mom suggested that homeowners wear latex gloves and safely pass out candy to children rather than have children reach into a bowl and grab their own.
Others plan to put those same safety protocols in place during more organized "trunk-and-treat" events for young children. Parents will gather at a park or church parking lot and pass out candy from the trunks of their cars. Parent volunteers will be assigned to ensure that face masks are in place and there is at least 6 feet of space between family groups as they move from trunk to trunk.
Downtown business districts are taking advantage of Halloween to let residents know their businesses are alive and well following the coronavirus shutdowns. Working with chambers of commerce and merchants associations, small business owners plan to transform their main streets into trick-or-treat streets, handing out candy to kids and offering games and prizes while parents come in and shop, eat or take a look around.
According to The Harris Poll's research, a majority of respondents say they can't imagine Halloween without candy and trick-or-treating. That includes 80 percent of the general public and 90 percent of millennial moms and young parents.
And according to an independent survey from Insight to Action, 70 percent of moms plan to celebrate the Halloween season with their children this year.
"There will be regional differences across the country in terms of how communities choose to celebrate the Halloween season, but one thing is for sure: Halloween is happening," Downs said. "As we look to our leaders in public health across the country for safety guidance, we want to share what we know about how people are approaching the Halloween season."
The Halloween season (including the eight weeks leading up to Oct. 31) accounts for about $4.6 billion in confectionery sales each year. A 2020 NCA market analysis shows that chocolate sales are up about 4.5 percent since the middle of March compared to 2.2 percent growth for all of 2019.
"Chocolate and candy have been very resilient in this COVID-19 environment," Downs said. "Consumers appreciate and value chocolate and candy during these uncertain times because of their uncanny ability to boost your mood and lighten your perspective."
With children returning to schools where they've been taught the importance of masks, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and other safety measures, parents said it should be easy to apply those same protocols to Halloween so children won't miss out on this much-anticipated holiday.