Dan Sadler_IRI.jpgDan Sadler, principal, client insights, IRI

With Halloween just a week and a half away, consumers are stocking up on their favorite candies.

And while 2021 was a blockbuster year for Halloween, candy distribution and sales have gotten off to a slower start this year, according to Dan Sadler, principal, client insights, IRI. However, the season is expected to finish strong.

Sadler recently spoke to Candy Industry about projections for the 2022 Halloween season and what IRI expects heading into the holidays.

CI: How would you describe Halloween candy sales last year?

DS: Halloween 2021 was a rebound year as consumers got back to celebrating post-COVID.  Pound sales for Halloween packaged candy was up 29 percent versus COVID (2020) and was up nearly 5 percent versus 2019. Total pound sales during the eight-week Halloween period (8 W/E 10/31/21) total chocolate and non-chocolate candy was up 7 percent versus 2020 and nearly 3 percent versus 2019.

CI: How are Halloween candy sales looking so far this year? 

DS: Pound sales for Halloween packaged candy got off to a slower start as distribution was a bit behind 2021, but as distribution has picked up, we have started to see sales climb, and overall they’re on par with 2021, which was a strong Halloween year.

CI: Have consumers bought the majority of their Halloween candy already, or do you expect a big push right before Halloween? 

DS: When considering the eight weeks leading up to Halloween, we typically see two-thirds of all Halloween packaged candy sales occur the last three weeks of Halloween. As stated earlier, 2021 consumers were looking to celebrate Halloween, and we did see more purchasing earlier in the season than is typical. In 2021, only 60 percent of sales occurred the three weeks leading to Halloween and 11 percent occurred the first two weeks — typically we see less than 10 percent during the first two weeks. This year, purchasing seems to be going back to normal levels with a big push closer to Halloween. 

CI: Did retailers put out Halloween candy early like in the past couple years? Has that had an effect on sales? 

DS: Distribution of Halloween packaged items in 2022 has been slower than the last couple of years. In 2021, we saw nearly 14 percent of retail ACV had Halloween candy on the shelves the first week of July. 2022 distribution was just over 5 percent and did not surpass 2021 distribution until the end of August. 

CI: Which candy categories do you expect to perform the strongest this season? 

DS: Through the first four weeks of the season (4 W/E 10/2/22), chocolate Halloween candy is down roughly 5 percent and non-chocolate is up over 5 percent. Halloween non-chocolate candy has posted week-over-week growth and displayed over 9 percent growth the week leading into October. This looks like a trend that will continue through Halloween.  

CI: Are there any brands or SKUs that are performing well this season?  

DS: Mainstay popular items during the Halloween/fall season include the larger snack-size bags and bags with assorted candy. Candy corn continues to be popular during the season. 

CI: What do you expect to see going into the holiday season? 

DS: 2021 was a fairly strong holiday season for non-chocolate. With inflation and the continued pressure on price, we may see consumers buckle their belts a bit more, making it tough to repeat 2021. However, we have seen non-chocolate perform well this year and into the Halloween season, so there is some optimism that this will carry over into the holidays.