The Tricks to Halloween Treat Sales

Insights from survey and marketing pro reveal opportunities for seasonal candy merchandising
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Halloween candy
Consumers buy Halloween candy at grocery stores more than other channels, a new survey confirms.

By now, many, if not most, retailers have set up their candy displays for the Halloween holiday. A new survey shows how they can sweeten sales over the next few weeks as shoppers get ready to celebrate the event and pass out goodies to trick or treaters.

Recent data from the Fishers, Ind.-based audio experience solution provider Vibenomics shows that consumers rely on grocery stores for their Halloween needs. According to the survey, 68% of shoppers buy their Halloween candy at grocery stores, followed by box stores (48%) and drug and convenience stores (38%). Only 16% said that they buy candy for this holiday online.

[Read more: "Candy Companies Make Good on Consumer Transparency Pledge"]

Halloween candy is a big deal, both literally and figuratively, at grocery stores. “There’s no small section for candy at a grocery store. Even through the entire year, candy and confections always stand out. At Halloween, it’s about pushing big combo packs and people looking for bulk buys,” Paul Brenner, Vibenomics' chief sales officer and president of Audio Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising, told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview.

He confirms that sales are up accordingly during the run up to Oct. 31. “For comps, 22% of our inventory was chocolate, candy and confections for October. I would expect similar results this year,” Brenner said.

In a more inflationary environment than 2021, grocers can expect customers to be seeking deals in the seasonal candy aisle. Vibenomics found that 53% of shoppers plan to look for ways to save money this Halloween. About a third (33%) responded that they will continue to spend as they have in the past for this occasion.

Another opportunity for promotions is to focus on different aspects of candy consumption during October. According to the survey, 59% of consumers plan to buy Halloween candy for trick or treaters and a similar set of 55% expect to purchase such products for their family and 54% will likely buy candy for themselves. Just 17% plan to buy seasonal candy for a special occasion or party, perhaps reflecting the downturn in Halloween gatherings since the pandemic began.

To connect shoppers with candy that meets their needs and budgets for the Halloween holiday, grocers can deploy in-store promotions. According to Vibenomics’ research, 74% of respondents said that in-store promotion is the form of advertising most likely to influence their purchase of a specific Halloween candy brand. More than two-thirds (64%) cited coupons as a driver, followed by recommendations at 22%, TV advertisements at 14%, and social media at 14%.

As for hot sellers, Vibenomics polled consumers to see what Halloween candies are more likely to wind up in their baskets. Chocolate topped the list at 69%, while other top-trending candies include gummies at 39%, caramels at 30%, hard candy at 29%, lollipops at 28% and sour candy at 24%. Rounding out the choices are decorative candy, chewing gum, taffy, luxury chocolate and licorice. 

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