"On Special" is a monthly look at evolving store categories with insights on how different grocers are capitalizing on top trends.
While candy is often an impulse buy grabbed by shoppers, the category grows into a necessity at the first sign of Halloween.
Grocers supply shoppers with candy for holidays throughout the year — such as candy hearts on Valentine’s Day, chocolate bunnies for Easter and candy canes come Christmas — but Halloween reigns as the ultimate sweet-tooth holiday as it drives around $6 billion in confectionary retail sales annually, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA).
John Downs, president and CEO of the NCA, recently stated that seasonal chocolate and candy, decorations, costumes and supplies are hitting store shelves earlier each year.
But inflation has made obtaining sweets this year more of a trick than a treat for shoppers. Forty-one percent of Halloween candy buyers say inflation will impact their candy-buying plans, according to a recent report from Advantage Solutions.
Half of Advantage Solutions’ survey participants stated they expected to spend the same amount but buy less candy due to higher prices, and approximately three in 10 anticipated spending less and buying less candy. The survey was conducted in early September and includes more than 1,000 adults who celebrate Halloween.
A third of shoppers cited price as the top factor affecting their Halloween candy shopping this year, and a majority said they expected to spend no more than $25 on sweet treats, per Advantage Solutions’ findings. However, 29% of consumers still ranked candy preference as the second most influential factor, ahead of package size.
Mass retailers are where more than half of shoppers are headed to buy candy this year for Halloween as Advantage Solutions named Walmart and Target as Halloween’s “big retail winners.”
Goblin down Meijer’s private brand candies
Candy from the retailer’s own brand includes chocolate eyeballs and monster faces as well as Sour Jelly Pumpkins and Gummi candy corn mix. In addition to novelty candy, the grocer is also selling pumpkin pie- and apple pie-flavored almonds, and Chai tea and white chocolate pumpkin pie caramels under its Frederik’s brand.
Target’s spooky snacks
The retailer known for being a one-stop shop has loads of trick-or-treating sweets to choose from — either from its Favorite Day private brand line or iconic national brands like Snickers and M&Ms.
Only-at-Target candy starts at $2 and a large selection of its treats is allergy-friendly, according to an announcement from early October. Target also highlighted its favorite offerings: chocolate bars with pop rocks, individually wrapped cotton candy and berry-flavored gummy fangs, brains and eyeballs.
Kroger’s scary good offerings
The grocer’s “monster candy bags” hold between 45 and 100 pieces of candy and are available for purchase at the uniform price of $11.99, per the press release, per an announcement from early October. Kroger also has candy options including Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Butterfinger, Skittles and more for under $5.
Kroger also has an assortment of fun bowls for displaying treats and trick-or-treat bags for this year’s candy haul.
Chocolate, gummy candy and candy corn are this year’s top three Halloween candies, according to NCA’s Halloween Central infographic.
Nearly 90% of individuals eating or distributing treats are serving chocolate candy, the Advantage Solutions survey revealed. Almost 60% will pick up gummies and 45% will put sour candy in their carts.