MONTREAL – Halloween costume vendors in Montreal have found themselves caught in an international scramble for “Squid Game” costumes, with global demand already draining Chinese factories amid a coal shortage.
With the horror vacation days away, Montreal store owners are forced to shell out high shipping costs for the costumes, hoping the local interest is strong enough to get their money back.
Squid Game, which became a global sensation and the # 1 show on Netflix this fall, shows hundreds of cash-strapped players competing in hyperviolent games under the watchfulness of military-style guards. The figures wear fencing-style wetsuit uniforms and masks.
Faten Hodroge owns Oya Costumes, one of the largest costume retailers in Montreal. She says she gets dozens of calls every day for Squid Game costumes.
“It’s a huge challenge,” she said, because “it was a late start”.
Hodroge says it’s common for costume retailers to order their costumes early in the year. In her store, she says she placed most of her orders in January.
But Squid Game exploded in popularity until October, leaving stores around the world scrambling to stock their shelves at the same time.
While the timing of the show’s boom was enough to make a splash in global costume markets alone, it was a widespread coal shortage in China that tipped the scales toward a Halloween crisis.
“The logistics have been an absolute nightmare,” Hodroge said.
READ MORE: Supply shortage issues cause Halloween retailers to scramble for inventory
Hodroge says the factory responsible for manufacturing Squid Game’s costumes for his store is working at reduced capacity due to an energy shortage in China.
A construction boom at the end of the pandemic in China pushed demand for coal up. However, Beijing recently called on coal mines to cut production, a move aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Weeks of power outages across the country have forced the government to impose energy rationing during peak hours, and some factories have had to halt production.
The capital has now raised electricity costs and ordered mines to increase production, and Hodroge expects to receive his suits by October 26.
That would only give people five days to buy a costume before the big night – and no matter where they shop, they’ll likely end up paying more at the checkout, according to Hodroge.
“Air travel costs more than the actual costume,” she said.
“Sometimes you pay two or three times the cost of the costume in shipping costs, just because the time is so important and there is such a backlog.”
BEST SQUID GAME HALLOWEEN RESEARCH TERM IN CANADA
A recent study by Father Mag found that Squid Game is the most common Halloween costume search in Canada right now, beating holiday mainstays like “princess”, “witch” and even “Harry Potter”.
The dinosaur and the fairy would be tied for fifth place.
But there were a few exceptions to the Squid Game-mania. In Alberta, residents were more interested in Disney’s “Cruella” character, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, Harley Quinn was all the rage.
Nova Scotia sticks to tradition with a high volume of “witch” searches.
The territories were not included in the survey.