HERSHEY, Pa.—The pandemic has driven consumers to stay at home, nosh on treats and preserve traditions, and those habits may remain after the pandemic subsides, according to CNBC.com.
People love their sweets, and they’re not just indulging in them at home during the pandemic, according to Michele Buck, CEO, Hershey, who expects a strong Halloween 2021 as vaccine distribution continues.
“We’re seeing this unique period where there is both a continuance of that at-home consumer behavior, as well as increasing away-from-home behavior,” Buck said. “Consumers are participating in seasons, they are telling us they’re doing more movie nights at home, they’re making more s’mores at home [and] at the same time, we’re seeing growth in our foodservice and our own retail businesses, which are away from home.”
Because of these trends, Hershey raised its sales predictions for the year to a range of 4% to 6%, up from 2% to 4%. Earnings are expected to climb between 9% and 12% to a range of $6.64 to $6.86 per share.
Hershey has put two price increases in place this year on its seasonal candy business and its non-chocolate and grocery business. The price hikes are attributed to higher costs for packaging and freight, plus the record-breaking Texas storms in February led to higher resin prices and limited availability, she said.
According to Buck, Hershey enjoyed one of its strongest Easters in history this year as consumers continued traditions and rituals despite the pandemic, which boosted sales of seasonal items. She expects this upcoming Halloween will follow a similar pattern.
“It was a strong Halloween last year, despite the environment, and the early signals that we’ve seen this year with our retail partners [are] that there’s a lot of belief that consumers will be interested in a strong Halloween this year,” said Buck, adding that the current vaccine distribution will be one factor driving the trend.
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