Between dire news reports, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine injections, glass partitions, social distancing, working from home, shuttered schools, and friends and relatives actually contracting COVID-19, it’s not hard to see why consumers needed to reach for something sweet during the pandemic.
And they did.
As the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) pointed out, “Americans indulged in candy during the pandemic, especially chocolate confections and in shareable package sizes.”
A recent report from The National Confectioners Association, “Confectionery Sales Amid COVID-19: 2020,” indicated that 46% of shoppers said they were more likely to purchase candy when in store during the pandemic.
“Shoppers bought different package sizes, brands, items and in different stores. Nearly six in 10 shoppers changed up their candy purchases amid the pandemic, including buying different pack sizes (48%), different types (46%) and different brands (42%). This was driven by out-of-stocks, looking for better value and changed routines,” the report noted.
The association added that some changes may prove to be long term, adding, “The pandemic fundamentally changed the growth trajectory of many departments in food retail, including confectionery.”
A couple of exceptions have been gum and mints. Between social distancing, working at home and mask-wearing, Americans, felt less of a need to freshen their breath.
According to IRI, while chocolate candy sales in c-stores rose by 7.6% for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2021, and sales of non-chocolate candy jumped by 18.2%, sales of gum fell by 3.3%. NACS SOI data shows a 23.6% drop in average store sales for candy rolls, mints and drops, and a 24.2% decline in average store sales of gum.
Make no mistake about it, the effects of the pandemic on the candy category, and many others, were profound. But the good news is the category overall has weathered the storm of COVID-19 quite well, and retailers expect strong sales ahead for 2022.