Halloween is the season of ghosts, goblins, and most of all, candy. According to The Nielsen Co., U.S. consumers are expected to purchase more than $2.1 billion in candy this Halloween season (the 10 week period ending Nov. 4). The holiday generates the greatest sales volume of sweets for the entire year, with candy sales expected to jump nearly 63 percent compared to the previous ten week period. "There's no doubt about it -- when doorbells ring on October 31, consumers respond with candy, and lots of it," says Todd Hale, senior vice president of Consumer & Shopping Insights, Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. "The quantities are big, but the sizes are small. Our review of the Halloween season shows that the overwhelming majority of consumers choose to give miniature candy to trick-or treaters." In fact, chocolate and non-chocolate miniature candy generated more than a third (39 percent) of its annual dollar sales during the Halloween season last year, in comparison to the total candy category, which saw 22 percent of annual dollar sales in the same period. While shoppers nationwide are adding candy to their shopping carts, Nielsen's analysis of 52 major U.S. markets shows that residents of the Salt Lake City/Boise metropolitan area bought 80 percent more candy than would be expected for a market its size, followed by Seattle and Portland, Ore. "Halloween is enjoyed by children and adults alike, and it's earned an entrenched spot in both our culture and our consumer habits," says Hale. "For retailers and manufacturers, Halloween is a concentrated selling period for seasonal items, and our research shows consumers putting a strong showing at the cash register." Incidentally, according to a poll by the National Confectioners Association, more than 90 percent of parents swipe candy from their kids' trick-or-treat bags. Our advice is to wait until they've gone to bed. Additional key findings from Neilsen Ninety-seven percent of households purchase candy at least once during the year. The average candy-buying household spent $74.68 during the year on candy and purchased candy 19.2 times per year. Eighty-five percent of all candy buyers purchased candy in grocery stores. Twenty-four percent of all candy dollar purchases involved a consumer-perceived deal, such as coupons or store deals. Happy Halloween!