I took my 6-year-old vampire and 2-year-old Elmo to the mall trick-or-treat this afternoon because A) Not even massive quantities of Skittles and Three Musketeers could have powered me through another four hours of answering, “Not until the sun sets” when asked every five minutes, “Is it time to go trick or treating?” B) I don’t like to be cold. And C) I thought perhaps I might steal a few minutes to browse for a new sweater.
As Halloween spending continues to rise – $5.8 billion by this year’s estimates – shopping centers and main street shopping districts have figured out how to play up their status at the modern day town center, giving us a place to show off our little Batmans and princesses before nightfall. I was at Southdale Center, which did a fine job of creating a party atmosphere with crafts in center court, giveaways for kids and train rides (albeit, $3 a pop). But as we left the Aveda store with nothing more than a Starburst, I couldn’t help but think most retailers did not make the most of this animated crowd – a crowd that included many who surely would not have been shopping today, were it not for the desire to find a temperature controlled place to celebrate; a crowd that included many who would gladly have been shopping, were they not chaperoning Harry Potter or Mini Mouse.
It’s not that I’m trying to pick on Aveda, but for a retailer that frequently boasts about its free tea and mini massages, why not serve up a little slice of that bliss to the handlers of the little monsters? How about tossing us a sample size lotion, the scent of which would have lasted long after the sugar high faded? Likewise, Bath & Body Works missed a chance to slip shoppers a lip balm or scented hand sanitizer. The Children’s Place skipped Halloween, as did Abercrombie, which plays like a bad attitude for stores that clothe the trick-or-treating set. Macy’s did nothing, which was sadly expected. But the non-player that really got me: Godiva. A chocolate shop – boycotting the mall trick or treat? As if I would consider shelling out $10 for two of their “Halloween chocolates” when they didn’t even care enough to give kids a little taste? Meanwhile, Cinnabon, which also earns its keep selling treats gave away mini cupcakes and Ben & Jerry’s and the smoothie bar had chocolates at the ready.
The one store that really seemed to make the most of the occasion: The Limited, which handed out mini chocolates wrapped with orange paper that said “Sweet Treat – A Gift from the Limited (Unwrap to see yours).” Inside the wrapper was a coupon for 25 percent off – good through tomorrow. So sweet. So simple. So useful – especially considering I never did get time today to look for that sweater. Now I know where to go first when I return to the mall.