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Business

BizWorthy: The Pandemic Hasn't Scared Away Halloween Costume Sales

Ghost costume
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Halloween is just over a week away. It's uncertain, though, just what the holiday will look like this year because of the pandemic. The North Carolina Health Department has recommended residents avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating or large costume parties, saying it could spread the coronavirus. Despite that, sales of Halloween costumes don't appear to be spooked. For more, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

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Marshall Terry: So, Tony, what did you find?

Tony Mecia: Well, Marshall, we went last week out to Morris Costumes, which is one of the oldest independent Halloween costume retailers in the Charlotte area. Been around for 60 years. So what we found is that they're saying that sales of decorations are up and that sales of costumes are actually holding pretty steady. They're seeing a number of people that want to decorate their yards, that want to keep the festive spirit going even during COVID.

And it sort of also goes along with what we see nationally. There was a survey that came out a few weeks ago that indicated that people are going to be dressing up in about the same numbers as they have in previous years and that they're sort of looking forward to this holiday. People maybe are looking for a little bit of a break from some of the dreary times that we've been in.

Terry: So did you find out what costumes are the hot sellers this year?

Mecia: Well, they said that a lot of the costumes are kind of the same that they've seen -- you know, a lot of superheroes, gangsters. Those haven't changed that much. They are selling things like COVID masks that have creepy clown smiles, you know, skeleton teeth. They're also seen sales of things ... they're selling hats that people will buy, that they can wear on Zoom meetings, Marshall.

Terry: Halloween-themed hats?

Mecia: Well, not even Halloween-themed, but sometimes Halloween-themed. But just over the last few months we have these pranksters that want to maybe spice up these otherwise boring Zoom meetings by adding a festive hat.

Terry: Well, let's stick with changes brought on by the pandemic for a moment. You report that sales for meal delivery services in Charlotte have tripled since the pandemic began. No surprise there, right? I mean, with fewer people going out to restaurants?

DoorDash
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Mecia: Well, I think that's right. A lot of people find it very convenient to just go online, put in a credit card and have that restaurant meal delivered to them using any number of services -- DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates.

DoorDash, actually, we got ahold of some transaction data, some market share data that says that DoorDash is actually in a pretty commanding spot, Marshall, that they have about two-thirds of the market here. It's really been growing. It is kind of interesting: DoorDash, more than its competitors, has been forging partnerships with national chains. I got an email a couple of weeks ago that said, "Great news! Taco Bell is now on DoorDash!" And so, you know, I don't know if we can surmise that their dominance is because of chalupa sales necessarily, Marshall. But they do have these partnerships with Cheesecake Factory, Wendy's, Burger King. And so I think we can maybe guess that, you know, some of those are doing pretty well in Charlotte.

Terry: Now, is this one of those pandemic trends that may stick around and become the new norm?

Mecia: I think so. I don't see it going away. I mean, these services were growing even before the pandemic. And, you know, it's really just accelerated in the last six or seven months as people find them to be pretty convenient. And so I think they are here to stay. And the other interesting issue on this, Marshall, is a lot of the restaurants actually don't really care for these services. That although they use them to deliver food, the restaurants actually don't make all that much money off of them. They have to pay some pretty substantial fees to these services. So, you know, if you're looking to support local restaurants, they say the better move is to go directly to the restaurant.

Terry: Finally, Tony, you found some residents in South Charlotte are protesting a plan to have their neighborhood become part of the county's network of greenways. So what neighborhood are we talking about and why are the residents opposed?

Mecia: Marshall, it's a little bit rare for neighborhoods to say, "We don't want to be a part of this greenway." You know, the greenways are pretty popular. We found a neighborhood near Carmel Country Club off of Green Rea Road where some of the houses go for somewhere between $600,000 and over $2 million. Neighbors there are saying, "Hey, we like greenways. Greenways are just fine. But we just don't want a connection to the greenway from our neighborhood." They're worried about the traffic. Charlotte Country Day School's, middle school campus is right there. They say the traffic always backs up. They're worried about residents from other parts of the city coming in and parking there and clogging their narrow residential streets. And so they're trying to tell the county, listen, please don't connect our neighborhood to this greenway. It's still in the planning phases. Probably a few years off from being built.

Incidentally, Marshall, we found a second neighborhood, Park Crossing, which is off of Park Road, south of South Mecklenburg High School, where there's a big lawsuit going on involving neighbors in that neighborhood and access to the greenway. That greenway's already been built, the county doesn't have a connection to it. But neighbors are in a pretty big dispute over how to get to the greenway going through other people's yards, whether there are legal rights to do that.

Terry: All right, Tony. Thank you.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

Terry: That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

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