​Despite Uncertainty, Winter Seasonal Candy Sales Tick Up

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shifting consumers' seasonal engagement with confections, the 2020 winter holiday season reached positive peaks.

According to Information Resources Inc., multi-outlet channels increased total confectionery dollar sales by 1.9 percent. This includes a 27.7-percent decline in gum and mint sales that continued because of pressures brought on by social distancing, as Candy & Snack Today reported.

During the winter holiday season, chocolate represented 64 percent of all sales and was up 7 percent from the 2019 winter season. Non-chocolate wasn't far behind, jumping 5.1 percent vs. 2019 levels.  

Grocery had the strongest performance of all channels, with chocolate sales up 9.6 percent and non-chocolate increasing 8.8 percent. Convenience stores also improved over their 2019 performance, but sales in the drug store channel fell short of the prior year levels.

Other seasonal confectionery engagement insights highlighted in Candy & Snack Today include:

  • Easter had two weeks of normalcy to start off the selling season, but with the beginning of lockdown orders, the next two weeks represented the two biggest sales weeks in the history of food retailing. After that, trips decreased as people hunkered down, NCA Sweet Insights reported.
  • During Halloween, retailers bought less season-specific candy and backfilled with everyday assortment. However, American parents found a way to celebrate Halloween safely and total candy sales accelerated past 2019 levels, the report also revealed.
  • Examining chocolate and non-chocolate only, IRI found that brick-and-mortar only sales (removing click-and-collect business) increased 4.1 percent over 2019. And, adding $649 million worth of product sold online, sales reached a total of $4.7 billion (+9.7 percent) for the total holiday season.
  • Switching from total confectionery to seasonally themed chocolate and non-chocolate shows Americans were up for celebrating in style. Seasonal chocolate — items with holiday-specific packaging, colors, shapes or flavors — increased in dollar sales 2.6 percent vs. one year ago. Seasonal non-chocolate products lost some ground (down 7.3 percent), but this was closely related to retailers stocking fewer non-chocolate seasonal items, according to Anne-Marie Roerink, founder of 210 Analytics.

Candy & Snack Today is a National Confectionery Association (NCA) publication.

Based 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.