How The Pandemic Has Been A Boom For Hershey's Halloween Sales

With the COVID-19 pandemic still hanging over American life, you might be inclined to assume that the approach of America's second pandemic-Halloween might be causing the candy industry a fair share of agita — especially if you're operating from the mindset that the first pandemic-Halloween proved disappointing for the candy industry due to internal and societal pressure to "stay home." Indeed, last year at this time, Candy Industry Magazine editor Crystal Lindell was saying, "I can't just see Halloween being perfectly fine this year" (via SF Gate). To support her point, she noted that 50% of Hershey's Halloween sales are allotted to trick-or-treating, as opposed to home consumption.

Turns out, however, sales of chocolate and candy (excluding gum and mints) in the weeks leading up to Halloween 2020 increased by 0.3% in 2020, compared to such sales in 2019, according to Information Resources, Inc. (via Candy USA). And grocery sales for chocolate alone were even higher — with an increase of 5.5% for chocolate sales — reflecting, perhaps, that to the extent people skipped trick-or-treating, they ended up buying all the candy but keeping it for themselves. In other words, not only has the pandemic NOT been a total bust for Halloween candy suppliers, it would actually appear to have been somewhat positive. And for Hershey's, in particular, we might go so far as to categorize the pandemic as having been somewhat of boom with regard to Halloween sales (via AP News).

Hershey's wasn't about to let the pandemic ruin Halloween

On November 6, 2020, soon after the Halloween sales figures came out, Hershey's announced that despite all the "staying home" that ensued after the CDC characterized trick-or-treating as "high risk" behavior (via ABC News), sales of its Halloween candy had risen somewhat (via AP News). The Hershey Company's chair and CEO, Michele Buck, went on to note that the company had boosted sales by sending out earlier shipments of Halloween candy to retailers, as well as by offering suggestions for safe ways to celebrate (with candy, of course), and investing more in e-commerce. 

"We made that decision to lean in and drive and build a Halloween season versus back away from it," Buck explained. And it paid off. Hershey's e-commerce sales grew 80% during the quarter ended September 30, 2020. Overall sales rose 4% during the pre-Halloween months of July to September. Numbers aside, let's put it this way: Hershey's Halloween sales ended up exceeding Wall Street's expectations, according to a poll of analysts conducted by FactSet (via AP News). And the news just kept getting better for investors with Hershey reporting that earnings were up 15.5% for that third quarter. 

"We saw strength early in the season for at-home consumption as well as baking and crafts, and we saw lower participation in trick or treat in the final two weeks, but overall, the category showed resilience in a very volatile environment," Buck concluded (via AP News).