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Boo! Where are the Halloween costumes?


If you haven't bought a Halloween costume yet, well, good luck. Thanks to a global supply chain slowdown, some costumes are hard to come by. So would-be Jedis (ph) and superheroes are getting creative as they search high and low for the right look, as Danielle Prieur of member station WMFE reports from Orlando.

DANIELLE PRIEUR, BYLINE: Margaret Guerrero has been on a mission for a few weeks now.

MARGARET GUERRERO: And so I'm looking for the costume, and I can't find it anywhere. You know, I'm going to the stores. I'm going on my lunch break. I'm checking online.

PRIEUR: She and her family of four are planning to have a "Star Wars"-themed group costume, and she wants to be Rey. But she's had a tough time finding the Jedi Master's iconic flowing white robes anywhere in stores or online.

GUERRERO: And I'm not thinking it's, like, such an in-demand costume that I can't find it. And, you know, at one point I'm like, OK, I guess we're just going to have to give up on our "Star Wars" dream and, you know, do "The Flintstones" or something. I don't know.

PRIEUR: She's not alone. From Alabama to Alaska and California to Connecticut, a slowdown in the U.S. supply chain has led to a nationwide Halloween costume shortage. It's affecting all sorts of goods, from groceries to business supplies to electronic materials. Cargo ship delays, too few truckers and other pandemic problems are to blame. Rollins College business professor Keenan Yoho says the slowdown probably won't be fixed any time soon.

KEENAN YOHO: But assuming that the demand signal continues and we're going into one of the highest retail periods in the country in the U.S., I would look out at July 2022.

PRIEUR: It just means that parents might have to get a little creative this year. Families have scoured secondhand shops like Goodwill. In Orlando, Gladys Vidal was browsing the racks of barely used costumes, including "Beauty And The Beast" and "The Avengers," some still in their original packaging just weeks before the big day.

GLADYS VIDAL: Some costumes are new. Some costumes are used. But they are in good condition, very good for something like this.

PRIEUR: Goodwill spokeswoman Kim Praniewicz says she's already noticed a steady stream of shoppers like Vidal picking up costumes after striking out at the traditional big-box stores.

KIM PRANIEWICZ: We have noticed that customers are coming earlier for costumes and decor, and I believe part of that is the supply chain. And we're very, very blessed here in Central Florida. We have wonderful donors, and we do not have a limit on what we have to put together for you.

PRIEUR: But for shoppers who have their eye on a specific make and brand of costume, it might take a lot of driving and plenty of luck. That's how Margaret Guerrero finally found her Rey costume. She was in a town hundreds of miles from home for a wedding when she popped into a local store.

GUERRERO: It was so funny because there was just one "Star Wars" costume for women, and it was Rey, and it was my size. And it was one that had been returned, so there was actually, like, an accessory missing. And I didn't even care. I was like, I'm - this is coming home with me today. Like, this is my costume. So it definitely felt like it was meant to be, you know?

PRIEUR: Guerrero says, after all that hard work, it wasn't enough. While most of the family is sticking with the "Star Wars" group costume, her son wanted to be a character from the movie "Venom" instead. After all, she says, this is a time to be flexible.

For NPR News, I'm Danielle Prieur in Orlando.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "REY'S THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Danielle Prieur
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