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Consumers' Engagement With Seasonal Confections Impacted by COVID-19


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every area of life, including consumers' engagement with seasonal confections.

Celebrating Confectionery Seasons: 2020, part one in a three-part series from the National Confectioners Association (NCA), examines seasonal confectionery purchases and trends, including insights on the upcoming Halloween confectionery sales season and an outlook on consumers' opinions of the 2020 winter holiday season. It also touches on 2020 Valentine's Day and Easter confectionery sales, which occurred just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to reshape American consumer behavior.

"Over the last several months, consumers have been eating more meals at home, visiting fewer stores and increasing their level of comfort with online purchasing," said John Downs, president and CEO of NCA. "These actions have changed nearly every facet of retail for the confectionery industry. In developing this robust series of reports, we hope to provide actionable insights to our member companies and retail partners so they can feel informed and prepared when making decisions for their businesses throughout and after this pandemic."

Key highlights from the report include:

  • About nine in 10 Americans celebrate the Big Four confectionery seasons — Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and the Winter Holidays — with confectionery gifting and sharing.
  • Secondary seasons, such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, have lower but still substantial engagement, with 50 to 60 percent of Americans sharing and gifting confectionery.
  • Seasonal confectionery has an exceptional ability to drive incremental sales, but seasons have seen compression over time, with more of the total sales happening in the final two weeks before the holiday.
  • The pandemic affected the performance of all spring and summer holidays, starting with Easter. About two in 10 Americans who normally celebrate Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and the summer holidays with confectionery gifting did not do so this year due to COVID-19.
  • Four in five Americans feel people will find creative and safe ways to enjoy the Halloween season this year, though not everyone — particularly older generations — is comfortable with trick-or-treating this year.
  • Consumers endorse a variety of safety precautions, led by masks worn by children and adults (56 percent) and handing out pre-packaged, store-bought candy only (52 percent).
  • Eighty percent of parents and 70 percent of all consumers anticipate they will celebrate Halloween this year, including 42 percent who plan to celebrate a bit differently than normal.
  • Importantly, 80 percent of those who plan to celebrate anticipate they will purchase as much or more Halloween candy as before.
  • Confidence in Americans finding safe and creative ways to celebrate the Winter Holidays is even higher (85 percent) and 87 percent anticipate they will celebrate the Holidays themselves. These shoppers, by and large, expect to purchase as much or more Holiday candy as normal.

To view an executive summary of Celebrating Confectionery Seasons: 2020, click here.

The three-part series pulls from sales performance data, insights from industry leaders and independent research conducted by 210 Analytics, which surveyed more than 1,500 shoppers nationwide. These reports are part of the NCA Sweet Insights education series that also includes NCA’s annual State of Treating report, annual and seasonal performance webinars, and the Sweets & Snacks Expo's Unwrapped digital education.

The second and third installments of the series — which will cover everyday confectionery sales and consumer behavioral shifts during COVID-19 — will be available in late November. For more information, click 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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