Poll suggests Canadians remain reluctant to hand out Halloween candy due to pandemic


Stringing up Halloween decorations in her Nanaimo front yard Tuesday, marked the start of Jaye Foster’s favourite celebration of all.

“I am a Halloween freak. Favourite day of the year, better than Christmas,” said Foster.

Yet this year COVID-19 has the Halloween enthusiast questioning whether to hand out candy to trick or treaters.

“I still have not made up my mind yet due to COVID-19,” said Foster.

The 57-year-old is not alone. The manager of the Nanaimo grocery store, Superette Foods said sales of candy are down in the lead up to Halloween.

“We’re not getting calls for ‘do you have boxes of candy’ that we normally would,” said Sharie Sorensen of Superette Foods.

That could be a trend in 2021 because although many parents are planning to let their children go trick-or-treating this year — but a new poll suggests they may find fewer doors open than in pre-pandemic Halloweens.

According to a new survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, fewer than half of Canadians who responded indicated they will open their doors to trick-or-treaters due to COVID-19 this year.

Of the 56 per cent who checked no, half said they would typically dole out candy on Halloween but will not this time “given the current pandemic.”

However, 93 per cent of respondents whose kids trick-or-treated last year intend to have them go candy hunting again this Sunday.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says some parents who kept their kids at home last year may allow them to hit the pavement on Oct. 31, given the high vaccination rates now versus the absence of vaccines a year ago.

Either way, the poll figures suggest they’ll face a few more darkened doorways.

“If you’re opening your door do you fear that you’re going to let the virus in? I don’t know,” Bourque said. “Usually you stay on the porch.

“We’ve already bought the candy to open the door.”

British Columbia’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has said trick or treating is okay, but to keep all interactions outside.

“We still do not have vaccine for young children, particularly that young age group that enjoys going out and trick or treating so this year as well keep it outside, keep groups small,” said Henry on Oct. 12.

But many Canadians also trick or treat in condo and apartment buildings, where open-air interactions are not an option.

Of the 447 respondents who had children of trick-or-treat age, 252 let them costume up and go porch to porch last year, with the vast majority of those planning the same for Sunday. The sample size is small and may not be fully reflective of Canadians’ Halloween plans.

Conducted Oct. 22 to 24, the online poll surveyed 1,512 Canadians and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The survey also asked Canadians to weigh in on economic questions.

About four in five respondents said the minimum wage should rise. It ranges from $11.75 in New Brunswick to $16 in Nunavut, hovering between $12.75 and $15.20 in most provinces.

More than a third of respondents said the higher cost of goods is the economic factor that affects them the most, followed by the cost of gas — $1.38 on average in Toronto last month and a spooky $1.57 in Vancouver — at 22 per cent.

“That’s the big sort of conundrum — higher salaries, higher inflation. And people are feeling it,” Bourque said.

September’s inflation rate came in at 4.4 per cent — the fastest annual pace since February 2003 — according to Statistics Canada, though Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said last week that recent inflation readings are “transitory” and rate adjustments would only be spurred by more long-term pressures.


With files from Christopher Reynolds/The Canadian Press

Skye Ryan
The Canadian Press

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