A must-buy-candy event is not the only reason Halloween is good news for branded candy makers. It turns out that brands also gain share in October, as store-brand candy's share dips.
Store-brand candy's share in food, drug and mass merchandiser stores is 8% on an annualized basis, but last year was 5.6% in the weeks leading up to and including Halloween, according to a Nielsen Company analysis.
The trend holds for both chocolate and non-chocolate candies.
That isn't likely to change much even in the current economy, according to Todd Hale, Nielsen SVP, consumer and shopper insights.
Hale cites several reasons. One is that private label candy has not been able to overcome the candy brands' huge marketing investments in brand-building. Consumers who don't buy much candy outside of the Halloween holiday may be going right to the brands because of limited store-brand assortments and limited knowledge of these options.
Some consumers are "splurging" on brand-name candies (an element of "what will the neighbors think" may apply in some cases), while others are taking advantage of brand-name promotions and price discounts.
The hope that they will get even better price deals, along with some simple procrastination, may be behind consumers' tendency to wait until the last minute to buy candy for the holiday.
The Sunday before and the day of Halloween itself are the biggest holiday candy-buying days, and this appears to be motivated by a combination of hoping to get even better price deals and simple procrastination.
Last year, $1.9 billion (598 million pounds) of candy was sold during the Halloween season, which is the single biggest holiday for chocolate candy, according to Nielsen. Last year, nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate candy were sold during Halloween week, versus 65 million and 48 million pounds for the weeks leading up to Easter and Valentine's Day, respectively.