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Candy Sales Are Flat; The Industry Blames The Weather

Halloween candy is offered for sale at a Walgreens store on September 19, 2013 in Wheeling, Illinois.
Scott Olson
Getty Images
Halloween candy is offered for sale at a Walgreens store on September 19, 2013 in Wheeling, Illinois.

Halloween candy sales have been flat over the last few years. And candy makers point to several reasons, including one I hadn't thought of: bad weather.

"The past two years have been plagued with major weather disruptions in key celebration regions," Jenn Ellek of the National Confectioners Association tells us in an email.

In 2011, there was unexpected snowfall in the Northwest, which kept candy sales at $2.36 billion for the Halloween season. Sales remained basically flat in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy coincided with the holiday, she says.

So, why is the trade industry forecasting a very conservative growth of 1 percent in candy sales this year? This time, they say it's the day of the week.

According to the NCA, fewer people throw parties and there's less time for holiday preparations when Halloween falls on a weekday compared to when it falls during the weekend.

If this reasoning holds up, the industry could be looking at two good years in the near future, with Halloween falling on a Friday in 2014 and a Saturday in 2015.

But how about all those messages we hear to cut back on sugar and empty calories? Will this end up eating away at confectioners' future growth?

It's not clear, but with all the chatter about tackling obesity, the candy industry has joined the message of moderation.

In fact, the NCA, as part of its Treat Right messaging, has published a Guide to Moderate Candy Consumption.

The portion sizes they recommend are a lot smaller than you might think. If you limit calories from candy to 50 to 100 calories per day, that equates just 15 to 25 small jelly beans.

Or, if you're craving chocolate, make it one fun-sized candy bar (that's the small one).

Perhaps to keep sales up, candy-makers will have to sell more packages — with less in them. As we've reported, the move to downsize candy bars is well underway.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Allison Aubrey is a correspondent for NPR News, where her stories can be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She's also a contributor to the PBS NewsHour and is one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.