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Sales growth in the candy/gum category was stronger than any other major product category (except tobacco) inside the store last year, although the revenue gain was mostly driven by higher prices — proving that small indulgences like candy are somewhat resistant to even the worst recessions.
The entire candy/gum category was up 4.1 percent last year to $5.4 billion in total industry sales. On a per-store basis, sales were up 4.3 percent to $38,253. For the second year in a row, retailers took advantage of the opportunity to harvest more margin along with the manufacturer price increases. Candy/gum as a percentage of in-store sales was flat at 3.13 percent of sales, but the category's share of in-store gross margin rose from 4.56 percent in 2008 to 4.8 percent last year. Total unit volume in the category was down roughly 3.5 percent.
Within the candy/gum category, the best sales gains were generated by chocolate and non-chocolate bars and packs. Chocolate bars/packs sales were up 5.2 percent to $2.3 billion last year, or $16,495 per store. Chocolate bars/packs also made up the largest share of the candy/ gum category, comprising 43.1 percent of revenue (almost a half-point increase from 2008) and 39.3 percent of the unit volume (slightly less than a half-point decrease from 2008). Unit volume in chocolate bars/packs was down approximately 5 percent, but larger-sized bars sold better than smaller sizes, according to retailers.
Non-chocolate bars/packs were up 7 percent to almost $1.3 billion or $9,075 per store, and comprised nearly 24 percent of sales in the candy/gum category last year, a 0.6-point increase. They also generated an even larger share of the unit volume in the category: 31.8 percent, up from 30.9 percent in 2008. Overall unit volume for non-chocolate bars and packs was up about 2 percent over the previous year.
Gum sales were flat last year, up only 0.7 percent to $1.4 billion or $10,191 per store, and comprised 26.7 percent of sales in the candy/gum category last year, with a 0.9-percent decline in per-store sales. Gum also generated 22.5 percent of unit volume in the category, down a half-point from the previous year. Overall unit volume for gum was down about 7 percent from 2008.
The only candy subcategory to show a sales decline last year was rolls, mints and drops, which fell 2.4 percent to $226 million or $1,598 per store. Meanwhile, bagged peg candy and novelties/seasonal both registered strong sales gains of 9.1 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, albeit on small bases. Together, those two subcategories represent less than 3 percent of sales in the candy category.
On a market share basis, convenience stores saw their share of total candy sales slip slightly, from 37.3 percent to 37.06 percent last year. Supermarkets gained a half-point of market share, to 41.02 percent, while drug stores lost a third of a point to 21.92 percent of sales. On a unit basis, convenience stores continued to demand the largest share at 45.75 percent vs. 35.07 percent for supermarkets and 19.1 percent for drug stores.
Candy proved to be recession resistant as category sales were up a solid 4.1 percent.
Bars and packs sold well, particularly in the larger sizes.
Gum sales fell flat last year — up only 0.7 percent in industry sales and down slightly in unit volume.