Retailers are being warned to stick to reputable sources of supply when buying children’s fancy dress costumes to add to their Halloween ranges.
It comes as Trading Standards officers prepare to carry out spot checks in UK stores in a bid to clamp down on unsafe costumes which do not comply with current fire safety standards and put children’s lives at risk.
Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is unacceptable for any costumes to be sold that do not comply with safety standards. That’s why I’ve granted funding to Trading Standards to carry out spot checks as part of a nationwide investigation. Parents should feel confident that any fancy dress they buy meets required standards.”
Trading Standards is set to report its findings back to the business secretary later this year.
Officers will check that all costumes being sold are compliant with the current European Standard EN 71-2 which specifies flammability requirements for toys.
Children’s Halloween costumes are widely wholesaled online, and through independent suppliers for as little as 65p a unit, but some foreign-made costumes do not comply with EU standards.
The news comes after TV presenter Claudia Winkleman raised concerns about the safety of fancy dress costumes after her daughter suffered serious burns when her fancy dress costume caught fire last Halloween.
Halloween 2014 was worth £280m to UK retailers in total according to HIM, and £64m came from the sale of costumes.
Anita Nye, of Eldred Drive Stores (Premier) in Orpington, Kent, has decided against selling them this year. “We used to buy in Halloween costumes from an external supplier and always did quite well out of them but we’ve decided against it this year just to be on the safe side,” she said.
David Knight of Knight’s Budgens in Hassocks and Henfield, West Sussex, agreed. “While the products I would have sold would have been compliant, I’ve just decided, as a father, and a responsible community retailer, that I don’t want to sell them any-more,” he said.