Halloween candy sales are expected to be higher this year than any time in the past decade, a treat for an industry seeing 1 to 3 percent annual growth.
“Candy is a luxury, certainly, but it is a very affordable luxury,” said National Confectioners Association spokeswoman Susan Whiteside. “Particularly when economic times are tough, the things that bring you a lot of happiness that don’t cost a lot of money tend to stay in your budget.”
The association, a Washington-based trade group, estimates that consumers will spend $2.4 billion on candy for Halloween, the most popular holiday for candy sales.
The association expects overall candy sales for 2012 to reach $32 billion, up from $24.7 billion in 2007.
Chocolates are the most popular of the individually wrapped, fun-size candies sold in large bags and intended for trick-or-treaters, Ms. Whiteside said. But candy-makers are also offering more holiday-themed or seasonal products — such as Tootsie Roll’s caramel apple lollipops — and often at premium prices.
One of Walgreen Co.’s most popular sellers is Mars’ white chocolate candy corn M&M’s. A 9.9-ounce package of this seasonal candy was selling for $4.49 in a downtown Chicago Walgreens; a 12.6-ounce bag of plain M&M’s is 20 cents cheaper.
With no major holiday falling immediately before it, Halloween gets more display time on shelves than other holidays; Walgreen stores devote aisles to Halloween products beginning in August. Candy corn is one of the biggest sellers, spokesman Jim Graham said.
American Licorice Co., founded in 1914 in Chicago but based in Bend, Ore., does its most brisk business during summer — chocolate can melt, licorice does not — and seasonal candies, including Sour Punch twists in orange citrus and purple grape flavors, bolster sales around Halloween.
“It is a nice driver,” spokesman Michael Kelly said. “It’s nice to have the additional volume coming through our factories.”
High-end Vosges Haut-Chocolat also sells seasonal holiday candies, including 0.8-ounce skull lollipops for $3.50 each, spokeswoman Natalie Markoff said. Caramel marshmallows, four for $13, are a hit during Halloween, and not just for the doorbell-ringing set.
“It’s a mix from the moms buying for holiday trick-or-treaters … and adults buying for parties to celebrate Halloween themselves,” Markoff said.