Despite a very short Easter season in 2013, with just 44 days between Valentine's Day and Easter, overall candy sales were up for the season, according to data presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) in a webinar. Chick N Egg Easter

Both chocolate and non-chocolate sales were up compared to 2012 — with non-chocolate sales rising 3.3 percent and chocolate sales increasing 2 percent, Symphony IRI data reveals.

However, that number could have been even higher if confectioners had gotten their Easter merchandising efforts out earlier.

“The good news is we were able to exceed a year ago, and exceed projections,” says Larry Wilson, the NCA’s v.p. - customer relations. “The opportunity remains in getting out to a better start...  particularly in those early weeks.”

The shopping data looked at the six weeks prior to the holiday, which fluctuates from year to year for Easter. In 2013 it was Feb. 18 through March 31, while in 2012 it was  Feb. 27 through April 8.

“That first week [in 2013] was impacted by the Valentine’s hangover of merchandise,” Wilson says. “We’re seeing that fairly consistently.”

However, despite the pitfalls, the odds were in candymakers’ favor. Confections still lead all items for Easter gift-giving. In fact, it accounts for more than two-thirds of all Easter purchases, according to data from NPD Group.

Moreover, more shoppers bought candy than all non-food items for Easter gifts combined, according to NPD research. Specifically, 68 percent of shoppers bought confections for Easter, compared to 66 percent of shoppers who bought non-food items.  

Nine out of ten shoppers planned to have a pretty sweet Easter, with candy on their shopping list. Specifically, they planned to spend $20.66 on candy in 2013. That’s more than the $9.49 they planned to spend on flowers, but less than the $20.82 they planned to spend on gifts, a BIGinsight Consumer Survey conducted in March 2013 details.

Maybe it was because there were so few days between Valentine’s Day and Easter, or maybe it’s just because the Easter Bunny was behind schedule, but nearly two-thirds of Easter shoppers bought their treats within a week before the holiday, according to research from NPD presented by the National Confectioners Association.

On average, shoppers planned to spend about the same as last year on Easter items, $145.13 in 2013, compared to $145.28 in 2013, a BIGinsight Consumer Survey conducted in March 2013 reveals.

As for next year, there’s 65 total days between Easter and Valentine’s Day, which gives candy companies more than three extra weeks to sell their Easter treats.