Grave Mistake: Don't Get Tricked When Buying Halloween Costumes


Whether their children wear them one time or all year round,  parents are looking to get the best deal out of Halloween costumes. The Better Business Bureau of New York offers tips for those buying or renting their Halloween gear from pop-up and year round costume shops.

Looking to buy or rent a costume for Halloween? You're not alone. According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Spending Survey, nearly 158 million consumers will participate in Halloween activities this year, spending an anticipated $6.9 billion on costumes, candy, cards, décor, and events.

Dressing in costume is one of the most cherished traditions of Halloween.  According to the NRF survey, 43.6 percent of people plan to dress up.  It is anticipated that consumers will spend $1.04 billion on children’s costumes and $1.22 billion on adult costumes.  Many four-legged family members will be in on the celebration, too.  According to the survey, 13.8 percent of those celebrating plan to get a costume for their pet and will spend approximately $330 million on their four-legged family members.

When shopping at seasonal, temporary Halloween stores, and especially at the last-minute, it’s important to exercise caution.  Consumers need to be aware of retail red flags and to read the fine print to avoid nightmares with fly-by-night costume vendors.

Here are some tips to make sure your Halloween is spooktacular:

  1. Research the company. Look for full contact information on the seller’s web site, including a phone number, e-mail address, and a street address. Always check out the company on before doing business.
  2. 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 such as Halloween costumes.
  3. Ask how long a store will operate. If you’re buying from a seasonal “pop-up” store, ask them whether they will be open after the holiday and whether they will accept returns when the season is over. Remember that seasonal and temporary stores have the same responsibilities as those who serve shoppers year round, and must display their refund and return policies prominently.
  4. Leave nothing to chance with online purchases.  Make sure the total cost and any shipping and handling charges are clearly outlined. Make sure you understand how long it will take for your order to arrive.
  5. Pay by credit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.
  6. Guard your personal information. If you are buying a costume online, only provide your credit card information in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” before the website’s address to be sure that the site you are using is secure.
  7. Keep documentation. Always save copies of the order confirmation and receipts.
  8. Examine your costume as soon as it arrives. If it doesn’t fit, or isn’t what you ordered, contact the seller right away or be sure to do so within any time frames they noted in the terms and conditions.
  9. Read the fine print when renting a costume. Understand the liabilities if something happens to the costume, if it must be cleaned before return, etc.

If you’re not satisfied with your purchase and have already contacted the company, you may file a complaint with the BBB at or call (212) 533-6200.

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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 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.  The BBB Serving Metropolitan New York was founded in 1922.  Please visit or for more information.