Less Social Engagement During Pandemic Takes Toll on Gum Category

ADDISON, Texas — Alcohol and tobacco have been key growth categories for the convenience channel over the past few months as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, driving in-store traffic and sales over the long term. Another key category where retailers are experiencing growth is candy.

According to new insights from Koupon, candy sales are growing 6 percent, and baskets with candy are experiencing a strong 14 percent increase in dollars from 2019, aligning with the overall COVID-19 era trend of inflated dollars per basket figures.

Larger chocolate bars and packs are witnessing strong growth, but non-chocolate bars and packs are also pulling ahead and growing at a faster rate. Despite the growth of both, the purchasing of larger packs is contributing to a decrease of overall trips, which dipped 12 percent.

Although trips are down across all subcategories of candy, gum is the only subcategory experiencing a year-over-year sales decrease. Gum is the only subcategory most affected by COVID-19, as its trips and sales are significantly down from a year ago.

Candy Basket Dollars & Units Growth

As with most categories, candy baskets have increased over the past few months, primarily in dollars per basket but also in units. A deeper dive indicates that many consumers are purchasing larger sizes in convenience, Koupon found.

Non-chocolate bars/packs have seen the biggest increase in dollars per basket, up 17 percent from the year-ago period. Chocolate bars/packs (14 percent), candy rolls (12 percent) and gum (12 percent) all showed solid improvement as well.

While gum trips and sales per store have declined significantly, basket dollars have improved at an encouraging rate, according to Koupon. Gum isn't growing in grocery either, which is attributable to a general decline in demand to a lower level of social engagement during the pandemic.

Candy Sales by Brand

Sales growth by candy brand provided insight into what is happening within the category across three different four-week periods: four weeks ending March 15; four weeks ending May 3; and four weeks ending June 21.

Koupon found that chocolate brands Reese's, M&M's, Snicker's and Hershey's continue to lead the overall category. Interestingly, Hershey's briefly improved share to number two before returning to the number four position.

Starburst, Skittles, SweeTarts and Life Savers are growing category share in line with the growth in non-chocolate bars and packs subcategory identified above, while Twix, Extra and Orbit are losing share.

Koupon expects to see continued growth in the candy category over the remainder of the year.

Addison-based Koupon works with brands to easily deploy personalized, channel-wide promotions, and helps retailers to secure additional brand trade spending and grow shopper engagement. Since its founding in 2011, Koupon has delivered more than 4 billion offers.