Halloween is an exciting time of year for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers alike. The holiday is marked by spiders, cobwebs and most importantly candy! In fact, candy may be one of the few aspects of Halloween that will remain largely unchanged during this tumultuous time. With October 31st approaching quickly, chocolate and candy manufacturers have worked hard to make the most of the season despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shoppers spend a total of $4.6 billion on Halloween candy every year in the United States. Most retailers placed their orders in preparation for the holiday back in March when the pandemic was still in its early stages. As October has drawn closer, retailers have had to place additional orders or adjust current ones based on consumer demand in their area.
Fewer public events this year have brought the overall Halloween spend down to an estimated $8.05 billion in comparison to last year’s $8.78 billion. However, those who are participating are spending an average of $6 more than last year on more outdoor decorations and greeting cards. Despite the pandemic, Americans are finding ways to celebrate while still practicing social distancing and mask wearing.
What This Means for Candy Consumption
While Halloween celebrations will look different this year, the practice of buying and consuming candy will stay the same. A study conducted by marketing research firm Suzy found that 80% of consumers plan to purchase at least the same amount of Halloween candy this year as in the past. Manufacturers are taking a couple of different approaches to ensure that consumers stock up on sweets regardless of their holiday plans.
Leading chocolate brand Hershey produced more of its popular assortment and snack size bags featuring Reese’s, Hersey’s, Kit Kat and variety brands this year. All of these treats have had an increase in sales during the pandemic. To account for changes in consumer shopping habits related to the pandemic, Hershey focused on producing smaller-sized variety bags instead of the 200-plus count bags used for trick-or-treating. The brand limited the amount of product they released with Halloween-inspired wrapper designs to minimize waste that would be offloaded at a discount after the holiday.
Hershey is forecasting flat sales this year during Halloween, the season that makes up 10% of it’s annual sales. “We’re tracking it very closely and we’re ahead at this point,” said Phil Stanley, the company’s chief sales officer. “The category has proven to be resilient.”
Other Candy manufacturers like Mars Wrigley have spent the summer and fall getting ahead of what they knew would be a challenging Halloween season. In an effort to bolster sales early, Mars’ subsidiary companies strategically targeted states and cities with marketing efforts in line with safety guidelines put in place by governors. They also elongated the Halloween candy season by putting up displays in stores early to tempt consumers stuck at home.
Candy makers have also worked to elongate the season, moving displays into stores earlier to bolster at-home consumption. Total Halloween chocolate and candy sales were up 13% for the four weeks ending Sept. 6, with Halloween chocolate specifically up more than 25%, according to IRI data. Most of these sales appear to be for personal consumption however, as detailed by the IRI survey.
According to Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Ph.D., marketing & logistics professor at Florida International University, “It’s a very important moment to gain customer’s trust, to show that you are top of your operation and that you are on top of what’s going on in the world.” Though the pandemic continues to persist across the globe, shoppers are turning to ordinary things, like Halloween candy, to feel a sense of normalcy. By supplying the products consumers have come to expect, companies can earn brand loyalty from customers for years to come.
How to Prepare Your Supply Chain
Chocolate and candy companies and their supply chains have to be flexible to get through this Halloween. Consumer shopping habits are constantly changing and orders must be adjusted in response. With a transportation management system (TMS), manufacturers, suppliers and retailers can all collaborate on a single platform. Complete supply chain visibility makes it possible for supply chain stakeholders to have real-time tracking information and make necessary adjustments.
Data from past holiday seasons has been instrumental in helping chocolate and candy companies prepare for this year. A TMS collects user data and uses it to generate detailed reports and dashboards that empower logistics professionals to better plan for the future.
Whether you purchase candy for yourself, family or to mail to friends, a lot of thought went into getting your sweet treat on store shelves this year!