Marlborough, MA -- Halloween is just around the corner and department stores have lined their aisles with ghostly costumes and spooky decorations. Halloween is known for being one of the biggest holiday shopping seasons of the year. The average American will spend $75.03 on Halloween items this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Total spending on candy, costumes and decorations is expected to reach a whopping $7 billion.
This Halloween, learn how you can save yourself money and avoid a spending nightmare. BBB offers the following tips to avoid getting spooked by a bad Halloween purchase:
Check out the company -- Many Halloween-themed stores take advantage of short-term leases, setting up shop in vacant space for just a few weeks. Businesses will also change their name from year to year as a way of hiding a poor track record. Always check out a company's BBB Business Review before making a purchase. If the company is not listed, ask employees how long the store will continue to operate and if they will accept returns after the holiday. If they don't, make sure the item is exactly what you want and understand you'll be stuck with the purchase if something were to happen.
Inquire about policies -- Seasonal stores have the same responsibilities as those who serve shoppers year round; they must display their refund and return policies prominently. Read the fine print and be aware of the terms and conditions of your purchase. Some stores may have time limits for returns and may not allow refunds on costumes. Others may only provide store credit for returns.
Keep documentation -- Make your purchases by credit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges. Save your receipts! The refund and exchange policy should be listed there. It is better to have policies in writing and the receipt is often needed to make a return.
Shop safely online -- The National Retail Federation predicts more people will search for Halloween costume inspiration online, rather than in retail or costume stores in 2013. When buying online, do it securely. Check a site's security settings. The web address should begin with "https://." Only provide your credit card number online on a secure site. Make sure to read the terms and conditions and know the return policy for costumes purchased on a website.