Tips to avoid a Halloween shopping nightmare at pop-ups, online

While the big-box stores are often the go-to places, much of the money spent will be at pop-up stores and online.

The Better Business Bureau says Halloween participation is expected to return this year to pre-pandemic levels, so shoppers must be extra careful as scammers devise evil tricks to grab your money and identity.

“It could be online shopping scams or problems with merchandise quality inside one of those Halloween pop-up stores,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.

The National Retail Federation projects that 69 percent of consumers plan to celebrate Halloween this year, up four percent over last year. Greater participation means increased spending and likely increased scams. The amount of money spent on Halloween purchases is staggering:  $3.6 billion on costumes, $3.1 billion on candy, $3.4 billion on decorations, and $0.6 billion on greeting cards.

Horton says, “Pop-up stores are open and ready for business. But the problem is, they could be here today and gone tomorrow. Many consumers will shop at physical retail outlets, but some people prefer shopping online for convenience and an increased variety of costumes. However, going online brings with it some risks.”

Supply chain issues last year created many problems for people looking for Halloween costumes for their children and themselves. This year that does not appear to be an issue. That’s good news.

While the big-box stores are often the go-to places, much of the money spent will be at pop-up stores and online. As Oct. 31 gets closer, those who may be pressed for time still need to take precautions while shopping for Trick or Treat items.

“The buyer could be left holding the bag if the Halloween items purchased are not satisfactory,” notes Horton. “You cannot return a product or file a complaint at a shuttered store.” 

BBB Consumer Tips to shop at a pop-up store:

  •  Check the company’s business profile at Use your browser to search for the company’s customer reviews by typing their name plus the word “review.”
    •    When possible, buy from companies that have been around long enough to have a clear track record.
    •    Check a site’s security settings, ensuring the web address begins with https://.
  •  Ask at the store how long they plan to occupy their building.
    •    See if they have a website in case you need to contact them later.
    •    Inquire about their return policy in detail, ask what type of merchandise they will take back and how to redeem credit after the store closes.
    •    Save every receipt, whether it is email or paper.
    •    Use a credit card to dispute problems with the card’s issuer. Services like PayPal are useful because they keep your credit card number from the seller.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB ScamTracker

For more information 

Visit or follow us @ChicagoBBB on social media. Look for the BBB seal, the sign of a better business.


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