VANCOUVER -- You may have noticed candy for sale and costume stores popping up in Metro Vancouver. But will the annual celebration be a flop this year?

Halloween has been slowly changing over the years and this year COVID-19 is going to give it a punch. But it’s not down and out just yet.

“It’ll be interesting this year, that’s for sure,” said Ashley while shopping for Halloween merchandise at Spirit Halloween, a pop-up store on West Broadway in Vancouver at the old MEC location.

“If anyone’s trick-or-treating they’re going to be sending the candy down a long slide,” added Ian, another shopper picking up DIY Halloween paraphernalia.

On Sept. 9, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, weighed in.

“Yes, absolutely I think we can have Halloween this year. It’s just going to look different,” she said.

While the province works on Halloween guidelines to deal with COVID, parents are already developing their own game plan.

A survey by mystery shopping app Field Agent reveals that there will be a lot of scaling back this year.

“We expect to see a lot less children out on the streets,” said Jeff Doucette, general manager for Field Agent Canada.

The survey got responses from more than 1,800 Canadian households. It found a 27 per cent drop in plans to go trick-or-treaking for families with kids under 18 compared to last year. 

Spending for Halloween treats is also expected to decrease by 14 per cent, and costume spending was anticipated to fall 11 per cent.

“I think, overall, you’ll see more caution,” Doucette added.

But don’t let that scare you. The show must go on, and kids will want to celebrate. Parents have already indicated that in addition to costumes, kids will be wearing protective masks and gloves, and a lot more hand sanitizer will be on hand.

Don’t expect pots of candy to reach into, with many little hands grabbing around inside. Those handing out candy may do so in smaller individually packed satchels left out for kids to grab.

Although many people plan to buy candy, they will not be handing it out but instead giving it out to kids in their own immediate bubble. And if any trick-or-treating is done, it will likely be close by, within people’s own neighbourhoods.

“I think the radius of how far we’ll be sending our kids this year will be relatively short,” said Doucette.

“There’s going to be less socializing. There’s not going to be a Halloween party necessarily,” said shopper Ian, who also plans to spend less money on Halloween this year.