Candy Sales Are Up as Consumers Treat Themselves

The 2024 ‘State of Treating’ Report includes tips for reinforcing permissibility.

March 25, 2024

Candy and chocolate sales hit an all-time high last year, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) 2024 State of Treating report.

With almost $49 billion in sales in 2023, 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. The sector is projected to grow to $61 billion in sales by 2028.

NACS Daily previously looked at some of the trends from the report, including how current inflationary budget concerns are changing consumer buying habits, when and why consumers buy the most candy and how convenience retailers can increase sales with promotions, deals and in-store display tactics.

Here are some additional takeaways from the report:

  • Treat yourself: 86% of consumers believe it's fine to treat themselves to chocolate or candy. “Several studies confirm that consumers understand the role of treating in a happy, balanced lifestyle, averaging two to three chocolate or candy treats per week,” said the report. Consumers are still health conscious, so the NCA suggested reinforcing permissibility by highlighting portion size variety, nutrition information and tips for treating on packages, digital materials and in-store displays to drive sales.
  • Spontaneous splurging: Consumers can also be easily convinced to splurge on treats, with 90% of shoppers saying they buy chocolate when they want something nice for themselves and will often spend more on chocolate and candy than planned. Seeing their all-time favorite candy 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. Retailers should lean into branded displays and engaging aisles, and market candy against primary, secondary and self-invented holidays, special occasions and self-care, suggested the report.
  • The deal with better-for-you options: While consumers are aware of better-for-you candy alternatives, only 10% of shoppers actually purchase them. Sales of “chocolate and non-chocolate candy with attributes such as organic, vegan and sugar-free were inconsistent in 2023.” Retailers should offer, but right-size their inventory of, better-for-you options.