A FEW weeks back I popped into a big chain store to pick up some Hallowe'en decorations. I sauntered through the doors feeling quietly smug that I was getting in ahead of the rush. Or so I thought.

After a couple of laps around the aisles, I was scratching my head. Where was everything? Eventually I asked someone. "If we have anything left, it will up the top end of the shop," said the harassed-looking staff member unpacking towering pallets of Christmas produce onto the shelves.

That was mid-September. Hallowe'en was still six weeks away at this point, but it seemed that those who hadn't stocked up may have missed the boat. I glumly perused the dregs left behind by other shoppers who clearly hadn't fancied plastic vampire fangs or foil-wrapped chocolate eyeballs.

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Never mind, I thought. I will pick some things up online. Alas, this also proved a fool's errand with numerous retailers showing "sold out" or "out of stock" on all the best spooky-themed paraphernalia.

The same September afternoon that my Hallowe'en decor mission crashed and burned, I popped into my favourite budget supermarket and clocked it already had an entire frozen food section dedicated solely to Christmas party cuisine.

The overriding message seems to be get it while you can; if you don't buy now, then rue the day. But do we really need it? And here is the kicker. This ongoing pandemonium with the UK supply chain – empty shelves, delays and shortages – may be more sneakily powerful than any marketing campaign.

The Herald: Decorated pumpkins in a fireplace. Picture: PA Photo/iStockDecorated pumpkins in a fireplace. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

A dearth of Hallowe'en decorations is far from cataclysmic in the grand scheme of things yet many of us – OK, me – have apparently become so conditioned by the cyclical calendar of consumerism that when it all begins to break down, it feels discombobulating.

As it transpired, several stores did get dribs and drabs of fresh Hallowe'en stock. Perhaps a few shipping containers were unearthed on a dock somewhere and by some miracle there was an HGV driver available to transport them. Who knows?

In recent weeks, I have bought bits and pieces, sticking them away in the big upstairs cupboard where a smorgasbord of clutter resides. It was only the other day when I decided to take inventory of my growing collection that the penny dropped: I had completely lost track.

Rather than doing one shopping trip to buy everything I needed, I have been squirrelling away the odd item as the stuttering supply chain allowed. The upshot: I have bought and spent far more than I intended. As I write this, I am picturing wily retail bosses cackling away in their volcanic island lairs.

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Meanwhile, my house rapidly looks like it is auditioning for a Tim Burton movie complete with jack-o'-lanterns, skeletons, black cats, ghost figurines, witchy-themed memorabilia and pumpkin-scented candles galore. I wanted to go big on Hallowe'en this year. But perhaps not quite this big.

And don't get me started on Christmas. I am already teetering on the edge of that tinsel-draped rabbit hole.

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