Columbus, OH (October 17, 2018) – Shopping for Halloween should be fun—not terrifying. With so many costume and decoration ideas, it’s hard to choose what to buy, and where to buy it from.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending for 2018 is expected to reach $9 billion, with consumers planning to spend an average of $86.79 each.

A recent survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics revealed that 70 percent of Halloween celebrants will plan to pass out candy, 50 percent will decorate their home or yard, 48 percent will wear costumes, 30 percent will take their children trick-or-treating and 18 percent will dress their pets in costumes.

When it comes to purchasing costumes and other Halloween supplies, 45 percent of shoppers surveyed will visit discount stores, 35 percent will visit a Halloween store and 24 percent will shop online.

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid getting spooked this Halloween:

Look around your home:

Before you head out to your nearest Halloween store, check what items you have in your home. You may find an old costume you can re-purpose, or Halloween decorations you can put out.

Rent a costume:
Some people don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money on a costume that will only be worn once, which is why they look to renting. If you opt for renting a costume this year, check out the condition of the costume first. Make sure you try it on and note any defects with the owner. Read over the rental agreement carefully and make sure you make note of the rental period.

Look for sales:

Compare prices on Halloween costumes and decorations from various retail or online stores. Along with comparing prices, look for coupons and sign up for email alerts. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of change.

Always check the return policy:

Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Find out how long you must keep your receipt, or what happens if you should lose your receipt. Remember: Buying a bunch of stuff with the intent of simply returning it after October 31st is considered fraud.

Shop smart online:

When shopping from an online website, the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The S in “https” stands for secure. Also, search for the business at bbb.org to confirm they are a trustworthy company.

Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.

Finally, be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards provide additional protection and make it easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.

Seasonal Stores:

If you decide to shop at a seasonal store, ask whether or not they will be open after the holiday, how long they plan to stay open, and if they will accept returns after Halloween is over. If they plan to close up shop November 1st, or refuse returns after, either consider shopping elsewhere, or take more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.

More tips for seasonal “pop-up” stores:

.See if they have a website in case you have to contact them later.

.Save every receipt.

.Use a credit card so you can dispute problems with the card’s issuer.

.Make sure you are clear on what items are FINAL SALE.

Attending a special event or visiting a haunted house:

Before purchasing tickets do some quick research to be sure there are no complaints about the company hosting the event.

.Check out the company at bbb.org. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the business responds to complaints.

.Check BBB Scam Tracker and see if other consumers have filed a report about the event host.

.Search the business online adding the word “Complaint”, “Reviews” or “Scam” after their name for different search results.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter and at bbb.org.