Last fall (2021), we thought we’d see a return of trick or treating after prior years’ Covid restrictions. We had just 4 knocks on the front door. We had moved to our current home in 2019 – and had a fair number of trick or treaters that fall, so assumed the decline was due to public health shutting down Halloween.

But perhaps not.

Local news outlets report that residents are seeing dwindling numbers of trick-or-treaters than once turned out. Centralized events are favored, and families have turned away from accompanying small coveys of Batmen, princesses, Darth Vaders and pirates of all ages as they roam the streets in search of sweet treats.

Source: The dying trend of trick-or-treating

In the years before 2020, numerous communities were seeing a decline in trick or treating:

Where Are All the Trick-or-Treaters? – The Atlantic

Poll finds Hallowe’en losing popularity – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community |

A combination of factors are at play:

  • Some were seeing the early effects of declining youth populations (depends on where you live)
  • Some were seeing changes in how people viewed their own neighborhood, connections to their neighbors, fear from news reports of tainted candy and so on.
  • Covid rules and Covid fears shut down Halloween for 2020 and often 2021 too, which may have led to a permanent change in Halloween habits and participation.
  • Kids are no longer permitted to trick or treat by themselves.
  • In my town, the downtown businesses now do a Halloween night trick or treat event; families head there rather than canvass the neighborhood. Large corporations may invite families in for in-office trick or treating. Also, many malls now offer family trick or treating.
  • To counter the safety fears, some communities now do “Trunk or Treating” – sort of a football tailgate event for Halloween where kids go car to car in search of candy. These are sometimes assisted by local police and fire departments as community outreach and to emphasize safety. Some communities issue multi-page “Guide to Halloween Safety” recommendations, which create more fears about safety!
  • Some cities have enacted rules with age restrictions or permitted hours, reducing the number of participants.

Some say that trick or treating is not dead – it’s just changed to no longer going door to door at residences and is now more of an organized community or mall type of event.

By EdwardM