Forecast 2018: The Outlook on Candy

Angela Hanson
Senior Editor
Angela Hanson profile picture
millennials snacking

NATIONAL REPORT — The candy category remains a prime source of impulse purchases for the convenience store industry, yet opinions are mixed on whether this will mean more sales or more of the same in 2018, according to the annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study.

A slightly higher percentage of c-store operators expect their candy volume per store to stay the same this year compared to the number who expect it to increase, 45.1 percent vs. 43.1 percent, respectively. The same goes for dollar sales per store, as 47.2 percent expect the same and 45.3 percent expect an increase. While a minority of retailers expect candy category performance to decline, they are more pessimistic about volume (11.8 percent) than dollar sales (7.5 percent).

New products are a major driver of candy sales, according to retailers. They also report that candy's presence near the checkout counter means that increased c-store traffic is likely to result in unplanned indulgence purchases, as does the number of young families, with millennials having children.

"Once again, new items will drive the sales, but we hope to be able to increase some retails in the next year," one retailer stated.

White chocolate, peanut butter, sour flavors and organic candy are among the trends listed by retailers as likely to boost the category in the year ahead. On the other hand, increased demand for healthy products and health-conscious eating habits may temper sales, operators say.

Retailers also highlight the increased variety in packaging as being an issue, despite the intended convenience of giving consumers the choice of multiple formats.

"Too many variations in sizes are confusing to customers," one retailer noted. "Requires additional unsold inventory that will be replaced."

The 16th annual CSNews Forecast Study includes a Retailer Forecast and Supplier Forecast, both based on the results of a survey fielded in November 2017. Participants were asked to predict 2018 sales per store for a variety of product categories, as well as to share their opinions on overall business, economic and consumer trends. The Forecast Study also provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories based on data from various sources, including Nielsen for category sales history; TDLinx for store counts; and government sources for motor fuel volume and pricing data.

Come back tomorrow to for the 2018 Snacks forecast.