The growth in candy sales across the convenience store industry clearly shows inflation isn’t going to stop Americans from eating candy. In fact, since unit prices are smaller compared to other items, consumers may be drawn to more affordable splurges.
“Generally speaking, confectionery is holding up very strong despite inflation taking a big bite out of people’s spending power across the entire income spectrum,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics LLC, in San Antonio, which specializes in quantitative and qualitative market research.
There are, Roerink pointed out, very few categories across the store that are maintaining unit and volume sales, and non-chocolate candy/gum is one of them. “Convenience stores have seen great strength in confectionery, especially non-chocolate candy, which lies in it being an affordable little treat. Gas prices are still elevated from pre-pandemic levels, everything in life is more expensive, but when looking at the unit price for candy it is something that most people can still afford for a little everyday happiness,” she said.
Roerink cited research results from Circana (formerly IRI and The NPD Group) covering the total U.S. convenience store channel for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 26, 2023. Total candy, gum and mints reached $7.8 billion. “This was an increase of 13.4% in the c-store channel versus 12.8% for all channels,” she said.
Specifically, chocolate candy box/bag/bar 3.5-ounce packages saw sales reach nearly $3.5 billion, a gain of 9.9%. Snack-sized chocolate candies recorded sales of $1.3 million, up 9.1%. Gift-box chocolate sales stopped just shy of $600,000, up 1.3%, while novelty chocolate candy saw sales of $353,000, a 9.1% gain, per Circana.
When it comes to non-chocolate candies, Circana found that sales topped off at just over $3.1 billion, up 15.6%. Hard sugar candy/package and roll saw sales of nearly $272 million, up 10.6%. Non-chocolate chewy candy sales were almost $2.3 billion, up 14.1%.
“The confectionery industry remains very strong, with sales surpassing $42 billion in 2022, representing more than 11% growth in dollar sales over 2021,” noted Carly Schildhaus, senior manager of public affairs at the National Confectioners Association. “While sales have certainly been boosted by inflation, this increase also speaks to the important and unique role that chocolate and candy play in the lives of many Americans, especially as 74% of consumers agree that confectionery remains an affordable treat despite challenging economic times.”