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With trick or treating in doubt, experts say Halloween sales could be weak



A Halloween night that falls on both a Saturday and a full moon would normally be ideal for spooky festivities, driving up sales of candy, costumes and decorations.

But with cases of COVID-19 on the rise, experts expect retailers to see soft demand for Halloween supplies as plans are scaled back and trick-or-treating is questioned altogether.

They add that sales related to the spooky celebration may also serve as an indicator for what retailers can expect this Christmas, the largest shopping season of the year.

Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory, says Halloween is a significant portion of business for many retailers and candy makers.

She says the lack of gatherings, office parties and trick-or-treating could lead to soft sales for retailers from grocers to specialty Halloween pop-up stores.

Retail analyst Bruce Winder says families and friends might plan their own “bubble Halloween” like a backyard celebration or scary movie night.

He says while people will still buy some candy, decorations and costumes, it likely won’t be as profitable a season as usual for retailers and candy manufacturers.

Grocery christmas teaser

Sweet strategies to drive seasonal candy sales

Grocery christmas teaserThe holiday season is in full swing and these seasonal insights can help convenience store retailers increase product sales.

Mars Wrigley U.S. collected key insights into what’s important to the shopper at certain points within each season and developed recommendations to help retailers shift to see seasonal opportunities year-round and increase product sales. These recommendations include:

  • Plan for seasonal items and promotions throughout the year;
  • Link external communications to the internal experience; and
  • Introduce strategic merchandising tactics.


Retailers need to approach seasonal products, within or outside the core four holidays, as year-round opportunities. A few examples include:

  • Mix “master” and “mini” seasonal moments. Retailers should mix master seasons, like Christmas, with mini-seasons, like Super Bowl Sunday to achieve this through year-round, affordable gifting geared toward millennials.
  • Leverage summer as the fifth season. Retailers have the opportunity to drive sales from early May through Labour Day with “mini” celebrations like Father’s Day, Canada Day, back-to-school and Labour Day, including summer traditions like road trips, barbecues and a moment to enjoy a summer treat like ice cream.
  • Promote seasonal moments early. To increase sales, create promotions that begin weeks before the mini or core four holidays.


To ensure products become planned purchases and make it from the aisle to the basket, retailers should link external promotions, such as web banners, with the internal merchandising experience.


Implementing seasonal promotions to increase visibility will help retailers leverage seasonal confectionery’s impulsivity and increase shopper satisfaction in stores. A few recommendations include:

  • Navigational cues. Retailers can inspire impulse seasonal purchases by bringing the season to life in the main seasonal aisle with a big owned statement related to the holiday. Additionally, provide touch points throughout the store that complement the main aisle using secondary displays.
  • Create mini destinations. Provide solutions in the aisle and throughout the store that highlight the season and inspire shoppers.
  • Insert bold pricing. Bold pricing on candy is critical to driving aisle navigation and encouraging impulse confectionery purchases to meet shoppers’ different budgets.
  • Utilize the checkout space. Showcase seasonal products in high-visibility checkout areas to invoke shoppers’ impulsivity before they exit the store.

“Consumers are using confections at mini and master moments to create celebrations year-round. This trend is growing, and we don’t expect it to change,” said Jim Dodge, vice president of convenience, Mars Wrigley. “C-store retailers have a great opportunity to capture the consumer and remind them why confections are vital to any celebration. In turn, retailers will drive sales and create a more exciting shopping experience.”

Originally published at Convenience Store News.


Path to purchase for candy and snacks is changing

snacker-teaser_0With consumers snacking multiple times a day with no limitations as to what they constitute as a “snack,” and purchasing their snacks from multiple sources, the industry is in the midst of a revolution — one that won’t be short-lived, according to two IRI experts.

During an Eye-Opener Session at the recent 2019 Sweets and Snacks Expo, Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader, client insights, IRI, noted that today’s snackers are multidimensional and have different intentions for snacking.

The traditional paths to purchase — planned and impulse — are still important. However, there are two additional paths on their way to prominence: on-demand and experiential.

“The average consumer still snacks 2.7 times per day, and snacking three-plus times a day has increased in the last four years. … This is good news for people in this room,” Lyons Wyatt pointed out during the session entitled “State of the Industry: Snacks Rule Center Store.”

Consumers’ increase in snacking, as well as them choosing the four different pathways to purchase them, is resulting in multiple trends. Chief among them: holistic health progression.

“We’ve seen solid increases for products that boast relevant claims, such as functional and dietary: 57% of consumers want snacks that contain vitamins and minerals, while 49% view snacks as an important part of their eating plain,” Lyons Wyatt said. “If these products aren’t a part of your set, please make it so they are.”

Another trip-driver trend is snackers’ desire for plant-based options. This segment has experienced 19% dollar sales growth and a 20% increase in unit sales to $188 million in sales, thanks to these items’ tailwind and mobility, the IRI executive noted.

Still, at their core, snack buyers remain committed to three key attributes when it comes to what snack(s) they’ll purchase:

Flavor: A whopping 89% of consumers want a snack with a flavor they prefer, while 92% seek out products with a taste they enjoy.

Packaging: A product’s packaging not only says a lot about the brand that manufactured it, but also about the retailer who carries it. Product packaging communicates to consumers what they’re looking for in snacks, such as transparency and sustainability, as well as a brand story.

Influencers: More than a quarter of consumers (37%) are influenced at checkout by product assortment, signage, price and available offers through a retailer’s loyalty or rewards program.


Along with the snacking industry, the confectionery business is experiencing its own set of changes.


Three key confectionery themes emerged last year: experiential (think indulgent, sensorial and exciting), expectation (think flavor, texture and familiarity) and simplicity (think healthy, convenient and natural). Driven by these themes, 2018 was defined by expansive growth in confectionery products that highlighted such attributes as:

  • Non-GMO Project verified
  • Organic
  • Gluten free
  • Fair trade

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


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