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December 8, 2021

Candy Aisles are Poised for a Very Bright Christmas

It’s already been a huge year for candy aisles. The upward trend experienced in 2020 – as consumers embraced comforts amid the pandemic – has carried into 2021.

A report from the Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. found that sales of chocolate candy were up more than 6% for the 52 weeks ending May 16, while non-chocolate candy sales were up more than 5%. The autumn months brought even more eye-popping numbers: Halloween candy sales were up 48%, according to the National Confectioners Association.

The stars are aligned for a big holiday season in 2021. With consumer spending up nearly 15% year-over-year for the first nine months of 2021, the National Retail Federation predicts that holiday sales could see their largest increase ever this year, and candy is poised to benefit from that spike in spending.

Here’s what candy shoppers will be looking for – and how retailers can accommodate them.


Seasonal flavors are all the rage

Candy shopping preferences change with the calendar. A report by Candy Industry found that 87% of shoppers prefer candy that comes in shapes, flavors, colors and packaging that reflects the season.

Thankfully, candy manufacturers have been pulling out all the stops this year, introducing both eye-catching new packaging and a variety of new seasonal flavors. Hershey’s has been particularly adventurous this year, debuting new products like Reese’s Peanut Brittle Flavored Cups, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Ugly Sweater, Hershey’s Kisses with Grinch foils, and gingerbread-flavored Kit Kats.

Red Vines, too, has gotten in on the “gingerbread train” with a licorice twist flavored after the Christmas cookie. Sour Punch, meanwhile, has introduced tree-shaped candies in cherry and lime flavors, with each pouch packaged with “to” and “from” labels. Sour Punch has also rolled out new “Santa Straws,” in red and green apple and berry flavors.


Shoppers remain loyal to chocolate

Many candy lovers turned to online for their candy fix during the pandemic. In 2018, only 25% of candy shoppers purchased some of their chocolate online, a number that’s risen to 40% in 2021, according to a report from the National Confectioners Association. But most of these buyers aren’t purchasing exclusively online. The report also found that more consumers buy chocolate at their primary store today than they did three years ago.

So which flavors do these chocolate lovers crave? The report found that almonds narrowly beat out peanuts/peanut butter and caramel and toffee as the top ingredients shoppers are looking for with their chocolate.


Shoppers are open to healthier options

Taste is still king when it comes to candy, and many candy shoppers are more than happy to look the other way when it comes to calories and nutrition. But the market for candies with “clean label” ingredients has been growing in recent years, with more shoppers looking for corn syrup alternatives, vegan options, locally sourced ingredients, and trendy toppings like quinoa in chocolate.

“Candy Industry” notes that buyers are increasingly looking for diverse-owned brands to meet their sugar fix. “Since January 2021, food buyers on RangeMe have searched more than 6,000 times for products made by minority-owned businesses and more than 4,000 times for women-owned businesses,” the publication reported.


Orderly displays drive sales

With holiday shoppers set to give your candy aisle a workout, it’s important to keep your candy displays neat and orderly so shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for. Retail Space Solutions develops products that help, including a new time-saver called SimpliStock™ Peg, which converts peg shelving into pusher displays that can easily adjust to fit nearly any packaging size. An easy way to organize even the most cluttered candy aisles, SimpliStock Peg systems ensure front-facing inventory and greatly reduce the time needed for employees to condition the candy display.

For more information on center store pusher displays systems from Retail Space Solutions, visit or call 1-800-279-5291.