Confectionery Sales Impacts During the Pandemic Have Been Mixed


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pandemic-driven changes in shopping, working and social routines prompted extraordinary change for the confectionery category as shoppers bought different package sizes, brands, items and in different stores.

Confectionery sales gains during the pandemic have been mixed. Between March 15 and Sept. 6, chocolate sales gained 5.5 percent, while non-chocolate sales are strengthening as convenience store traffic is rebounding for an overall pandemic gain of 1.6 percent, according to Confectionery Sales Amid COVID-19: 2020, part two in a three-part series from the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

"With this report, we're delivering the information that's essential to today's ever-shifting retail environment during the COVID-19 pandemic," NCA President and CEO John Downs said. "The data provided in this report is tailored specifically to confectionery manufacturers and retailers looking to develop best practices for this new retail landscape and get a grasp of some of the larger behavioral shifts resulting from the pandemic."

Key highlights from the report include:

  • The grocery channel has been the main beneficiary of the pandemic channel shifting and its confectionery gains are far above average. C-store confectionery sales have been rising since July and August.
  • The vast majority of people have consumed chocolate (92 percent) and non-chocolate (80 percent) during the pandemic. Around 10 percent of people reduced their candy consumption, pointing to fewer grocery trips and trying to eat a little less of it with an eye on balance as the chief reasons for doing so.
  • Fewer people have consumed gum or mints during the pandemic (both 64 percent), with social distancing lowering engagement.
  • Nearly six in 10 shoppers changed up their candy purchases amid the pandemic, including buying different pack sizes (48 percent), different types (46 percent) and different brands (42 percent). This was driven by out-of-stocks, looking for better value, and changed routines, such as working from home, buying for different members of the household and more experimentation.
  • Consumers bought confectionery in many fewer outlets. While grocery grew, alternative channels in particular, such as movie theaters, bookstores or candy stores, were hit by the pandemic purchasing shifts.
  • Sixty-one percent of consumers having purchased groceries online during the pandemic and 26 percent having purchased confectionery online. Closing the gap would be an important win for the confectionery industry, but 46 percent of shoppers agree that they are more likely to purchase candy when in store.

An executive summary of the report is available here.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NCA is the trade organization that promotes the unique role of chocolate, candy, gum and mints in a happy, balanced lifestyle and the companies that make these special treats.

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