Candy prices over the past year have escalated at a scary pace, which has had a chilling effect on unit sales for several popular Halloween sweets, per purchase insights pulled from Catalina’s Shopper Intelligence Platform. With Halloween ranking as the second most popular holiday in the U.S., per the National Retail Federation, Catalina has identified steps CPG marketers can still take with price-conscious consumers to put more treats in baskets this season.


Expect slow candy sales volume this year

The first step is to analyze the data and gain a thorough understanding of the landscape. In this case, candy unit volume sales—for both single serve bars and multi-packs—are slower this quarter going into Halloween than the same time a year ago likely due to price increases. Overall, average volume decreased by 8%, while overall prices increased by 16%.

The candy types with unit sales decreasing the most since this time last year are Licorice (-15%), followed by Single Chocolate Bars (-12%), Packaged Chocolate (-9%), and Fruit Chew Candies (-8%). The categories with the greatest unit sales decreases—Licorice and Single Chocolate Bars—also saw the greatest price increases at +22% and 20% respectively.

Despite double-digit price increases, Toffee/Caramel (+13%), Other Non-Chocolate Candies (+16%) and Gummy/Jelly Candies (+15%) saw only single-digit unit sales decline by 4.4%, 4%, and 3.8% respectively. 


CANDY sales down, prices up







Single Chocolate Bars



Packaged Chocolate



Jelly Fruit Chew



Hard Candy






Other Non-Chocolate






Source: Catalina Shopper Intelligence Platform, 13 weeks ending 8/21/2023 versus the same period a year ago

Chocolate buyers are particularly price-sensitive

The next step is to thoroughly understand the customer. For example, by dividing shoppers into tiers of spend and then analyzing their price sensitivity, Catalina discovered that 96% of Heavy Chocolate Buyers—15% of all chocolate buyers who account for 53% of spend—are moderately or extremely price sensitive. These folks may need an extra incentive to help them enjoy their simple treat during Halloween and beyond.

Making Halloween more successful

For candy marketers to drive efficient volume, generate incremental sales, and eliminate media waste and subsidy, Catalina recommends a five-step process. After targeting high-potential, frequent brand and category buyers based on purchase-based insights, the next step is to deliver engaging, omni-channel messaging at every point in the shopper journey, via Digital, Connected TV, Out of Home, In-Store, and more. The aim should be to sell at the threshold goal in a single shopping trip. Then reward shoppers with cash back on their next trip, always measuring shopper behavior and redemption to gain valuable insights, particularly as the 2023 holiday season begins to shift into high gear.