As the United States has failed to contain Covid-19 as well as, well, most of the rest of the world, Americans will have to cope with unfortunate, ongoing disruptions to daily life in the months ahead. While many parents are currently agonizing over whether or not to send their kids back to school, they’re about two months away from starting to worry whether it’s safe to send their kids out to trick or treat for Halloween.
That apprehension is bad news for candy companies, most of whom make their mint every October. As a result, companies like Hershey are put in the awkward position of both putting out their Halloween candy earlier—and marketing a smaller percentage of their confections than usual explicitly as “Halloween candy.”
First and foremost, it looks like stores are bumping up their Halloween timeline a bit earlier than they would in the hopes of cajoling customers to stock up (well) ahead of time.
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“More stores have started Halloween displays earlier,” Hershey's global chief sales officer Phil Stanley told CNN Business. “Most have moved up their displays two to four weeks earlier" from the usual late-August to early September.
Murphy noted that Albertsons, the parent company of Safeway and others, has already begun putting out bags of Halloween candy with the appropriate in-store displays. However, other chains like Walmart, Walgreens, and Target say they’re sticking with their usual Halloween timelines for now.
While it might seem odd that part of the strategy also involves removing some Halloween branding, it’s a product of how the pandemic has changed purchasing patterns. Those big bags of smaller “fun-sized” candies have sold well in 2020, fitting with our bulk buying compulsions and needs to enjoy little treats while trapped at home. With evidence cited by Stanley showing that more than 55% of Halloween candy purchased to fill candy bowls at home, at work, or just the mouths of whoever bought them, there could be something to gain from shifting away from traditional Halloween packaging.
Whether trick or treating happens door to door or over Zoom, people are still going to want candy. Candy demand may be down a bit if adults who only purchase it for distribution to kids in the neighborhood skip out this year, but it’s not going to dry up completely. The most important thing to note as of now is that, unlike Dr Pepper, there should hopefully be enough Halloween treats to go around.
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