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    Higher Prices Haunt Halloween Revelers

    Nielsen survey reports consumers will buy more than $1.9 billion in candy this spooky season.

    SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- U.S. consumers are likely to be spooked by higher prices this Halloween as prices for candy and costume accessories are higher this year than in the 2007 season.

    Costume hair coloring products showed the greatest increase, averaging $4.42 (average equivalized unit price), up $2.46, or 126 percent compared to a year ago. The average equivalized unit price for all candy is $3.59, up 10 cents, while chocolate candy is up 17 cents to $4.22.

    "For many consumers, the most frightening part of Halloween may be higher prices," said Tom Pirovano, director of Industry Insights for The Nielsen Co. "That said, few parents will deny their children the fun of dressing up and trick-or-treating, so we expect sales to remain strong."

    The eight-week period leading up to and including Halloween accounts for nearly 90 percent of costume hair coloring annual sales activity.

    U.S. consumers are expected to purchase more than $1.9 billion in candy during the Halloween season, with chocolate candy accounting for $1.2 billion of Halloween candy sales. Non-chocolate candy will account for nearly $672 million.

    "Chocolate remains king," said Pirovano. "Chocolate miniatures, in particular, experience a high surge of sales around Halloween that is hard to match other times of the year."

    More than one-third (35 percent) of total annual sales of chocolate miniatures take place during the Halloween season, according to Nielsen, which is the parent company of Convenience Store News.

    Consumers tend to wait until the last minute to purchase Halloween candy, however. From early October to Halloween, weekly candy sales more than double—from $196 million per week to $426 million. The top individual purchasing days for candy last year were: Oct. 28, followed by Oct. 27, Oct. 30, Oct. 21 and Oct. 31.

    "In today’s tough economy, it’s very possible we will see more consumers waiting to buy candy as budget conscious consumers wait for the biggest bargains," said Pirovano.

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