In this, arguably the scariest of years, the Halloween season won’t be as frightening for the candy business as once was feared. Reports across the country showed improving sales data from candy manufacturers. Hershey reported retail sales up 19% compared with a year ago through the end of September. Ferrero and Mars Wrigley also were in the plus category.
Of course, COVID-19 is a factor. Months back, distressed consumers found some comfort in junk food. In a Food Dive report, Mondelez International data from April showed 25% of respondents had chocolate, and the National Confectioners Association had reported overall sales of chocolate and candy increased 3.8% between March 15 and Aug. 9 of this year.
Hershey revised its strategy to meet the changing times, swapping out jumbo packs for snack sizes and small bags of assorted candies. It made popular purchases such as Reese’s, Hershey’s and Kit Kat available a few weeks earlier than usual, while dialing back its Halloween branding to avoid discounting inventory come Nov. 1.
“For everybody, there’s a sense of uncertainty, and there still remains uncertainty,” said Alex Corcoran, senior director of seasons at Hershey.
In terms of Halloween behaviors, people are still planning to participate, but the candy delivery itself seems to have taken a hit. In a Fox Business story last month, only 35% of households said they planned to have candy at the door for trick-or-treaters, and of those who plan to hand out candy, only 54% said they expected to spend the same amount of money on candy as they did in previous years.
A survey from Party City shows 96% of Americans plan to celebrate but that 70% don’t plan to trick-or-treat. They leaned more toward neighborhood parades.