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COVID-19: Candy Sales are Growing and Chocolate Brands are Leading the Way

As convenience store retailers and manufacturers adapt in the era of COVID-19, our Koupon Insights team is continuing to monitor how consumer buying behavior is changing. It’s no surprise that Alcohol and Tobacco have been consistently strong performers in recent months, so over the next few posts we will take a deeper dive into other key categories that will continue to drive in-store traffic and sales over the long term. 

Today we’re taking a look at in-store transactional purchase trends for Candy over the previous four weeks compared to the relevant period in 2019. Before we dive deeper, it’s important to note that Candy includes both indulgent products and increasingly in recent years, offerings targeting consumers particularly concerned about diet and health. Both are demonstrating strong year-over-year sales growth in the midst of a decline in trips and increase in basket dollars. 

Here’s a glimpse of our key findings:

  • Candy sales are growing 6% while trips have decreased 12%
  • Baskets with Candy are experiencing a strong 14% increase in dollars from 2019, aligning with the overall COVID-19 era trend of inflated dollars per basket figures
  • Chocolate brands continue to lead the category, while Non-Chocolate is growing and Gum is declining

Candy Sales and Trips Growth
Larger Chocolate Bars and Packs are witnessing strong growth, but Non-Chocolate Bars and Packs are also pulling ahead and growing at a faster rate. Despite the growth of both, the purchasing of larger packs is contributing to a decrease of overall trips. But while trips are down across all subcategories of Candy, Gum is the only subcategory experiencing a year-over-year sales decrease. Gum appears to be the subcategory most affected by COVID-19, as its trips and sales are significantly down from a year ago.

Candy sales are rising in convenience stores

Candy Basket Dollars and Units Growth
As with most categories, Candy baskets have increased over the past few months, primarily in dollars per basket but also in units. A deeper dive indicates that many consumers are purchasing larger sizes in convenience. Non-Chocolate Bars/Packs have seen the biggest increase in dollars per basket, up 17% from the year-ago period. Chocolate Bars/Packs (14%), Candy Rolls (12%), and Gum (12%) all showed solid improvement as well. While Gum trips and sales per store have declined significantly, basket dollars has improved at an encouraging rate. Interestingly enough, Gum isn’t growing in grocery either, so we attribute a general decline in demand to a lower level of social engagement during the pandemic.

Candy basket sales in convenience stores

Candy Sales by Brand Trends
Drilling down to brand-level trends provides unique insight into what is happening within the category. In the following view we show sales growth by candy brand across three different 4-week periods:

  • 4 weeks ending 3/15/20 representing pre-COVID sales
  • 4 weeks ending 5/3/20
  • 4 weeks ending 6/21/20

Chocolate brands Reese’s®, M&M’s®, Snicker’s®, and Hershey’s® continue to lead the overall category. Interestingly, Hershey’s® was able to briefly improve share to number two before returning to the number four position. Starburst®, Skittles®, SweeTarts®, and Life Savers® are growing category share in line with the growth in Non-Chocolate Bars and Packs subcategory identified above, while Twix®, Extra® and Orbit® are losing share.

Candy Sales Brand Ranking in Convenience Stores

We expect continued growth in the Candy category over the remainder of 2020.  Our team will continue to monitor Candy and broader in-store trends, share additional insights, and keep you informed over the near term.

Powered by over 5 billion consumer transactions, Koupon Insights brings consumer insights to retailers and brands.  If you have specific interests or questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more!

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