COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts the number of households planning to celebrate trick or treat or other Halloween festivities this year will reach pre-pandemic levels.

“This is the highest level of expected Halloween spending that we have seen in well over a decade of surveying consumers,” said Katherine Cullen, director of Industry and Consumer Insights at NRF.

Cullen says the NRF estimates total spending on Halloween across the country could be close to $2 billion more than it was in 2020.

“And this is because we’re seeing more people celebrate than they did last year because things are in a different place,” Cullen said.

With vaccines and COVID tests readily available, health experts say people feel more comfortable gathering for Halloween events, including trick or treat.

“Kids are so excited, you know? I remember at that age, it is about getting as much candy in a short amount of time and being the most efficient with your trick or treating so you can get the most candy,” said Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

However, efficiency should not outweigh safety.

“Masking is really important, you know, especially in areas where there’s a lot of trick or treaters, you know, it’s difficult to maintain that physical distancing,” Denny said.

In addition to wearing masks, Denny recommends the following safety tips:

  • Maintain proper distance. Trick or treaters should wait for groups of kids to leave a house before approaching the doorstep.
  • Stay home if you or your child is not feeling well. Make sure someone who’s healthy passes out candy.
  • Outline expectations. Talk with your children about all safety measures before they step into costume.

“We know that more children are killed in pedestrian injuries on trick or treat night than any other night of the year,” Denny said.

So, along with COVID precautions, Denny urges parents to be mindful of this troubling statistic.

“It may be dark out so make sure your trick or treater has reflective gear, maybe you get them maybe a neon necklace or a little neon something on their bag, so they’re easily seen by traffic,” Denny said.

She encourages all families to have a conversation about pedestrian safety.

“Really talking about not running out in between parked cars, making sure we’re crossing streets at crosswalks,” Denny added.

If your child suffers from any food allergies, inspecting all candy is key.

“I think talking beforehand about not eating candy as you’re trick or treating, that way the family can go through the candy together and sort out what’s safe and what’s not safe,” she said.

For more information about Halloween and trick-or-treat safety, click here and here.