Tis the Season for Sweet Treats

We are heading into the latter part of the candy season!

Leading into the end of the year, households across the U.S. begin to up the ante when it comes to sugary treats. While candy is a stable contributor to sales across all channels, data shows that sales increase during key holiday periods throughout the year: December, Valentine’s Day, around Easter and October/November. While current data doesn’t take us into Halloween and autumn of this year, we can learn from last year’s trends. Let’s explore some data.

 Ghoulish Guests

With Halloween this month, people are preparing for their spooky visitors looking for tricks/treats. In fact, neighborhood traffic may be up compared to previous years. The National Retail Federation anticipated Halloween-themed merchandise spend would reach $12.2 billion in 2023, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6 billion. About 73% of consumers planned to participate in some sort of Halloween celebration, compared to 69% last year.1
Source: SPINSScan Natural Channel (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by Circana), Trended Quad dollar / % chg. vs YAGO

Last year, we started to see a slight uptick in shelf stable candy sales starting four weeks ending September 11th,2022. While this may seem a bit early in the season to be tied to Halloween prep, a recent study identified 22% of consumers say it’s NEVER too early for Halloween items, including candy, to be showcased online and in stores.2

Here are 3 key trends you need to know:

Health and Wellness (HWI) positioned candy products outpace counterparts.

The total candy industry is $28.5 billion, across MULO and the Natural Channel, for the last 52 weeks, and grew 12% versus last year. Within this segment, Health and Wellness candy (HWI) sales represent 15%, or $4.2B. Though HWI candy products are relatively small, their growth currently outpaces their conventional counterparts.

Source: SPINSScan Natural Channel (proprietary), Regional Independent Grocery (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by Circana), 52wk ending 08.13.23 / % chg. vs YAGO; HWI=Health & Wellness Industry

The strong performance of HWI positioned candy was supported by promotional activity throughout the year. Increases in dollars attributed to promotions aligned with holidays, which started to ramp-up at the beginning September/October 2022. Promotional dollar share among HWI candies really took off around December, Valentine’s day and again in March/April 2023. Throughout the past 52 weeks, 38% of HWI shelf stable candy dollars were attached to promotions, exceeding the total segment benchmark of 35%.
Source: SPINSScan Natural Channel (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by Circana), Trended Quads ending 08.13.23 / HWI Dollars, % Promo, HWI=Health & Wellness Industry

Candy sales are seasonal, yet varied across types

There are five subcategories within the candy (HWI) category: candy chocolate, candy non-chocolate, shelf stable fruit snacks, gum and mints, and individual snacks. While all subcategories see increases/upward movement leading into December of last year, two of these five subcategories see additional seasonal sales spikes throughout the year. Chocolate and non-chocolate have peaks in February (Valentine’s Day) and March/April (Easter), while non-chocolate also starts to see an uptick (+21.7%) from the prior month leading into the Halloween season. Gum and mints and individual snacks, do see a seasonal peak in December, but sales remain consistent throughout the remainder of the year. Of these sub-categories, shelf stable chocolate candy is the crowd-favorite, representing 56% of total (TPL) sales and 45% of category growth. Shelf-stable candy non-chocolate is 28% of total sales but contributes more than its fair share (36%) towards the overall growth.

Source: SPINSScan Natural Channel (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), Trended dollars., HWI Shelf Stable Candy

Natural sweeteners and diet conscious candy resonate with consumers

Consumers are gravitating to clean, diet-aligning indulgent treats. Seventy-two percent of shelf stable candy sales do not include artificial sweeteners. Shoppers are spreading the majority (HWI 77%) of their candy spend on products that include ingredient – natural sweeteners. This attribute evaluates the ingredient statement and identifies products containing added natural sweetener ingredients, including all sugar alcohols and fruit juice concentrates.

Source: SPINSScan Natural Enhanced (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by Circana), 52 weeks ending 08/13/23 vs YAGO, UPC-level data

While candy and diets may not typically be synonymous with each other, data reveals shoppers continue to be vigilant around their purchase decisions, even when visiting the candy aisle. Candy products that align with diet and lifestyle choices are capturing dollars and posting healthy growth. Products that support dietary choices, such as Keto (+10.6%), Vegan (+11.1%) and Paleo (+30.0%), grabbed more spend than the previous year.

https://stationerytrends.com/news/halloween-2023-spending-to-reach-record-12-2b/#:~:text=Halloween%202023%20spending%20to%20reach%20record%20%2412.2B,-Comment%20Tweet%20Share 1

https://www.powerreviews.com/research/halloween-spending-2023/planning-spending/ 2

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Looking for more information? Please contact the SPINS Account Manager for PRESENCE, Mike Murphy at mmurphy@spins.com.