There are dozens of retailers on line and off selling Halloween costumes. How on earth can you make sure you’re getting a good deal?
1. Head to the store to browse
It’s really not that hard. The first step (if you haven’t been able to find a great costume second hand) is to head to a brick and mortar store with a good selection and just browse to get an idea of what your child wants to be. Choose a costume and look at the tag to find the manufacturer. There are really only a few manufacturers out there (that’s the secret retailers don’t want you to know). Once you know who makes the costume and what it’s name is, you can easily do a price comparison.
It’s also a good idea to find your child’s size while you’re in the store so that you can order online without fear that the costume won’t fit.
2. Compare prices online
Next, go to a price comparison site like PriceGrabber.com and type in the exact name of the costume (for example, “Skelebones” instead of “skeleton costume”. That should bring up a list of the retailers that carry it. You’ll find that prices vary widely. It’s also important to realize that no single price comparison site will bring up all the retailers that carry an item.
It’s a good idea to manually check for the costume at discount stores like Walmart.com, Target.com, and Amazon.com. Be sure to get free shipping. Keep in mind, too, that if you order from an online store without a brick-and-mortar presence in your state, you may be able to save on sales tax. On a $30 costume, that’s a savings of over $2 in my area.
Check for coupon codes at the store (just Google the name of the site plus “coupon” to pull them up). If you like shopping through cash back programs (Upromise, eBates, etc.) be sure to do so.
Some of the largest costume retailers:
CostumeExpress.com, HalloweenExpress.com, BuyCostumes.com, CostumeDiscounters.com, CostumeSupercenter.com, HalloweenCostumes.com, Shindigz.com, PartyCity.com, Walmart.com, Kohls.com, Target.com, Amazon.com
3. Expect prices to vary widely
Don’t be surprised if you find that prices on the same costume vary by $10 or more. The Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Deluxe Costume, for example, was $35 at BuyCostumes.com on 9/16, but only $30 at Target.com and $27.48 at CostumeSuperCenter.com.
The Plush Monkey infant costume (top right) was $36.99 at $44.99 at Kohls.com but only $29.99 at BuyCostumes.com.
4. Wait for the best savings.
Right now (mid-September) you can expect to find discounts of 20% to 30% on costumes.If you really want to save, it’s best to wait until after October 1 to buy. That’s when retailers start getting nervous about clearing costume inventory and marking down prices. You should easily be able to find discounts of 40% or more on October 1, with discounts increasing to 70% or so by a week before Halloween. Last year, Old Navy had Halloween costumes for $2 four days before the big day. Of course if the costume is hard to find, it may be better not to wait, since selection will be better now.
What are your best Halloween shopping tips?
Next: Finding great costumes on Etsy.com.