Is Halloween Still Happening? New Data Shows Candy Sales are Sweeter in 2020

Trick Or Treat

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Halloween Trick or Treating

Don’t ditch that Tiger King costume just yet — Trick or treating and other ghoulish gatherings are in limbo this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but new sales data from the National Confectioners Association shows Americans aren’t planning on ghosting Halloween this year.

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While the holiday may look a little different, this year’s Halloween celebrations could be more spirited than ever. Halloween chocolate and candy sales are up 13% for the four weeks ending Sept. 6 compared to the same period in 2019, according to an NCA report. The growth is mostly driven by Halloween chocolate sales, which are up 25.3%, and more people shopping at grocery stores more often due to the pandemic, with grocery sales of Halloween chocolate and candy up 17.1% from this time last year.

COVID-19 could haunt us a little longer, but it doesn’t seem to scare us away from the spookiest season. In fact, a recent Harris Poll surveyed 1,000 American adults and 74% of millennial moms and young parents say this Halloween is more important than ever. And in an independent survey from Insight to Action, 70% of moms plan to celebrate the Halloween season with their children — and since Halloween falls on a Saturday, parents don’t have to worry about staying up too late on a school night.

There are some cities that have canceled the haunted holiday, but many government and health officials are trying to find ways to make this Halloween socially distanced rather than socially awkward. In fact, 80% of people believe there can be creative and safe ways to celebrate Halloween this year — that’s up from 63% in July, according to a national survey by the NCA and Morning Consult. The Center for Disease Control recently released alternative ways to participate in Halloween this year, including pumpkin carving, a Halloween scavenger hunt for candy, virtual costume contests with friends, and grab-and-go goody bags for socially distanced trick-or-treating.

“The CDC’s guidance reinforces that Halloween is happening and provides inspiration for creative and safe approaches to celebrating the holiday throughout the month of October,” said NCA President and CEO John Downs, in a prepared statement. “There’s no question that Halloween will look different this year, and innovative approaches endorsed by CDC like outdoor trick-or-treating can bring a little fun to the fall.”

The National Retail Federation said overall participation in the holiday is down this year, according to its annual Halloween survey of 7,644 consumers. However, those who are finding creative ways to celebrate are spending more this year than in 2019. On average, consumers are spending $92.12 on Halloween in 2020 compared to $86.27 in 2019. And because the holiday looks a bit different this year, American consumers are spending more on home decorations, candy and greeting cards.

“Some of the most interesting data concerns younger generations, consumers ages 18-24,” said Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist, in a prepared statement. “Although fewer are celebrating this year, the ones who are aren’t shying away from Halloween-related purchases, spending $11 more on average, primarily on decorations and candy.”

It looks like America still has a sweet tooth despite our sour state from the pandemic. Is it because we’re craving a sense of normalcy from our holiday traditions? Or is it just more evidence we’re gaining that “quarantine 15?” Whether you plan on celebrating at home bingeing scary movies with a big bowl of candy or enjoying socially distant trick-or-treating in your best face mask, be sure to check out the CDC’s guidelines for safe celebrations for the holiday season.


Halloween 2020 Infographic

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