The Great Debate: Should we celebrate Halloween. Yes, says town centre manager Martin Quantock
SPOOKY goings-on were marked this weekend with ghoulish costumes ahead of Halloween on Wednesday. Every year it is getting bigger in this country, but should we be marking the event?
Martin Quantock, Cheltenham town centre manager, said there were knock-on economic benefits linked to Halloween.
"Although it's difficult to quantify how much of a difference it makes, Halloween does give shops a bit of a boost.
"Coming at the end of October, it's quite good timing because otherwise this time of year can be a bit of a lull for traders before the run into Christmas.
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"Lots of shops can benefit from Halloween. Obviously you've got the party shops which rent out costumes, and then there are lots of spin-offs – from people buying pumpkins to people purchasing sweets so they have goodies ready in case children come knocking.
"I know it's not a time of year that is necessarily the most popular with everyone.
"A lot of people don't like the trick or treating aspect of it and I think there's a system now whereby people can put something up in their windows to let people know if they don't want to get involved. I know this year the Echo held a Monster Walk through the town together with Total Star FM and that was a good alternative.
"But from my point of view, Halloween is a chance to liven up what can otherwise be a quiet time for shops.
"Whatever they are selling, traders can all get involved in decorating their window displays with cobwebs and other items and that all adds to creating a bit of a buzz in the town. I know kids certainly get excited about the idea of getting dressed up as ghouls and ghosts with fake blood and the rest of it.
"Halloween almost certainly won't have as big an economic impact as other more recognised festivals such as Mothering Sunday or Easter.
"But if it encourages people to come to the shops and spend, then it has got to be a good thing for the town centre – as long as it is celebrated responsibly."