FOLLOWING last year’s lockdowns, this Hallowe’en will see the return of children trick-or-treating, as well as streets like Carlisle’s Botchergate being filled with spooky characters.

Such festivities do not work without fancy dress, and in the wake of a dearth of dressing up opportunities, fancy dress shops are seeing a bumper year as they provide a wide range of costumes to purchase in time for the event.

Anthony Ivinson, director of Struts in Carlisle, has been surprised at the demand for outfits. He said: This has been the busiest year on record for us in our 36-year history. On Monday we processed 1,800 orders on Monday and 1,500 on Thursday.

“We’ve had a rough couple of years and we anticipated that this year could be a big one for us. People have been locked up and they’re wanting to go out and party, but we didn’t expect it to be as big as it has been.”

Like many retail companies, Struts suffered from a lack of business during the pandemic. When asked how the last 18 months affected the store, Anthony said: “It wasn’t great. The majority of our staff were furloughed and as a family-run business some of us had to work during part of the lockdowns.

"Our industry goes hand in hand with pubs and nightclubs, so we all suffered a quiet period.

“With the party side of the business, where we sell things for birthday parties like balloons, we still had a number of click-and-collect purchases from families who were having parties for their kids at home. We got hit quite hard but were always confident that we could ride the storm and now we’ve come out of it and it’s great.”

The business offers outfits ranging from historical figures and celebrities to fictional characters. Discussing what has been the most popular costume this year, Anthony said: “The Harley Quinn costumes for women, year-on-year they always seem to be the best selling.

“It’s been a very clown-related for kids this year, but we’ve also had a lot of Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family costumes sold.

"We always have some new additions to our collection which seem to be popular; however it’s usually what we already have that seem to do well over the years.”