Chocolate and Candy Sales Hit All-Time High

NCA suggests ways retailers can increase sales based on consumer behavior.

March 13, 2024

Confectionary sales reached a record high in 2023 with almost $49 billion in total sales, and almost everyone bought candy last year, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) 2024 State of Treating report.

The dollar amount gains for chocolate ($25.9 billion worth of sales) and non-chocolate candy ($19.2 billion) were mostly driven by inflation, while the gum and mints category ($3.7 billion) had growth in dollars, units, and volume.

Even with inflation concerns, 98% of consumers bought candy last year and spent an average of $260 per year on candy. Twenty-seven percent of consumers said they buy candy at convenience stores.

But budget concerns are changing consumer habits, with 44% saying they buy chocolate and candy less often, 30% only buy what’s on sale (many said they specifically prefer a BOGO deal) and 25% buy only favorite candies without trying new items.

Consumers still want to treat themselves, and they buy chocolate to do it. “Ninety percent of people mention chocolate when asked what they buy when they want to do something nice for themselves. Nine in 10 shoppers can be persuaded to spend a little more on chocolate or candy than planned. Seeing their all-time favorite or a brand they love, as well as holidays, special occasions and doing something nice for themselves or others are the top consumer-cited reasons to splurge.”

Consumers buy more candy ahead of holidays, the report found. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and the winter holidays seasons together account for 64% of total confectionery sales.

To increase sales, the NCA said retailers should offer promotions, especially around the holidays, and “keep confections front and center online and in-store. Focus on points of interruption and trip optimization strategies, such as endcaps, secondary displays, and retail theater.”

Price and brand loyalty were the top two drivers of candy choices and purchase decisions among consumers. NCA suggested retailers “leverage brand loyalty and proven favorites to cement sales, and integrate brand extensions, novelty items, gifting, and innovations to drive additional engagement and trial.”

7-Eleven released a new line of Valentine’s-themed products last month, and offered $1 candy deals for the holiday, while candy companies Mars and Hershey’s released special seasonal Valentine’s chocolates.