America’s appetite for Halloween candy looks to be rebounding from a slump during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with candy experts locally and nationwide predicting record demand, as well as changing preferences among consumers.
Online candy retailer and expert candystore.com cited National Retail Federation data indicating Halloween candy spending should hit a record $3 billion this year. That’s a 20% increase over last year and 10% over the previous all-time high.
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And West Texas isn’t expected to be an exception.
Top Halloween Candy by State ~ Interactive Map | CandyStore.com
Rudy Cortez, a business manager in charge of seasonal candy for United Supermarkets, said the chain started getting big shipments of Halloween candy starting in mid-August in anticipation of a heightened demand.
He said that, at the beginning of this year, manufactures predicted there would be a 60% jump in trick-or-treating this Halloween compared to last year, when Americans were generally more cautious during the height of the pandemic.
Candy manufacturers expected 2021 to witness industry’s total demand to increase from 5.9% to 11.4% compared to prior years, he said.
It’s never too early to start meeting that demand. Having the candy in stores early pays off, he said.
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Cortez said about 40% of consumers shop the seasonal aisle for Halloween goodies as early as August.
But Cortez said local candy sales do evolve as the season gets closer.
At the beginning stages of the Halloween candy season – August and September – consumers are mostly interested in instant consumables, smaller packs and candy dish items such as candy corn.
Toward the middle of the season – later in September and early October – people are purchasing snack-size candies with different flavors that they’re going to consume every day, Cortez added.
As Halloween gets closer, that’s when more consumers transition to buying the bulk items they’re going to give as trick-or-treat items, he said.
“Each consumer has a different taste; therefore, we try to cater to a wide variety of consumers for their different tastes,” Cortez said.
Cortez said, the industry has seen some price increases due to the cost of raw ingredients, shipping, packing and labor, but demand has still been high.
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They work with the manufacturers to try to keep the costs down, and to be consistent, where their consumer is comfortable with the pricing, he added.
“Trick-or-treating is a tradition, and we enjoy family traditions – it brings us a sense of tradition and belonging and normalcy,” Cortez said.
He said they stock a full selection of Halloween candy to satisfy all tastes, but national data shows there are some tried-and-true favorites.
According to candystore.com, Reese’s Cups jumped Skittles as the No. 1 selling candy nationally this year, while traditional favorites for candy corn seem to be losing popularity. In Texas, Starburst are the most popular candy sold for Halloween, followed by Reese’s Cups and Sour Patch Kids.
As for his favorite Halloween treats, Cortez said being the business manager over seasonal candies has allowed him to try a wide assortment. But his favorites of his are typically anything with caramel.
Lastly, when asked about what happens to the candies that remain on the shelves at the end of the season; Cortez said each store will mark down their product or donate that product depending on the quantities that they have.