'Squid Game' boom puts Montreal Halloween shops in global battle for exhausted stock

Halloween costume sellers in Montreal have found themselves tied up in an international scramble for "Squid Game" costumes, with worldwide demand already exhausting Chinese factories in the midst of a coal shortage.

With just days to go before the horror holiday, Montreal shop owners are having to shell out on high shipment costs for the costumes, hoping local interest is strong enough to make their money back.

Squid Game, which became a global sensation and the No.1 program on Netflix this fall, shows hundreds of cash-strapped players competing in hyperviolent games under the watch of military-style guards. Characters sport jumpsuit uniforms and fencer-style masks.

Faten Hodroge owns Oya Costumes, one of the largest costume retailers in Montreal. She says she’s been getting dozens of calls every day for Squid Game costumes.

“It's a huge challenge,” she said, because “it was a late starter.”

Hodroge says it’s common for costume retailers to order their costumes early in the year. At her store, she says she made most of her orders all the way back in January.

But Squid Game exploded in popularity through October, leaving shops around the world rushing to stock their shelves at the same time.

While the timing of the show’s boom was enough to cause a stir in global costume markets alone, it was a widespread coal shortage in China that tipped the scales towards a Halloween crisis.

“Logistics have been an absolute nightmare,” said Hodroge.

READ MORE: Supply shortage woes have Halloween retailers scrambling for stock

Hodroge says the factory responsible for manufacturing Squid Game costumes for her shop is working at reduced capacity because of an energy shortage in China.

A late-pandemic construction boom in China has pushed coal demand up. However, Beijing has recently called on coal mines to reduce production, a move aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Weeks of power outages across the country forced the government to impose energy rationing during peak hours, and some factories have had to suspend production.

The capital has now increased electricity costs and ordered mines to increase production, and Hodroge is expecting to receive her costumes by Oct. 26.

That would leave just five days for people to pick up a costume before the big night – and no matter where they shop, they’ll probably end up paying more at checkout, according to Hodroge.

“The air shipment is costing more than the actual costume,” she said.

“Sometimes, you pay two or three times the price of the costume in shipping costs, just because time is so important and there is such a backlog.”

SQUID GAME TOP HALLOWEEN SEARCH TERM IN CANADA

A recent study by Father Mag found Squid Game is the most common Halloween costume search across Canada right now, beating out holiday mainstays like “princess,” “witch,” and even “Harry Potter.”

Dinosaur and fairy were reportedly 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 is sticking to tradition with a high volume of “witch” searches.

The territories were not included in the survey.

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