Trick or Treat Yourself

Aug. 14, 2020

Let's stop pretending that Halloween is anything but an excuse.

As I’ve said before: Sometimes the pandemic forces people into new behavior patterns, and sometimes it just reinforces existing ones.

We see the latter in how candy companies are approaching the pandemic’s first Halloween. They have to plan around diminished door-to-door trick-or-treating. And they’re doing this in what, to my mind, is the only logical way: Acknowledging that for many adults, Halloween is an excuse to have bite-sized candy in the house.

To set the stage with some statistics, courtesy of CNN: 55% of all Halloween candy gets purchased for adult consumption (and I suspect that figure is underreported); Halloween accounts for 10% of Hershey’s annual sales and $4.6 billion in U.S. confectionery sales overall; and while 74% of young parents said Halloween is “more important than ever” this year, fewer plan to hand out candy.

As is well known by now, the pandemic is driving many consumers to seek comfort foods, and what is more comforting than candy? That’s why Hershey, at least, is partnering with retailers to set up Halloween displays earlier than ever this year. “Most [stores] have moved up their displays two to four weeks earlier," Hershey’s chief sales officer told CNN Business.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but why even pretend that Halloween is anything but an excuse anymore?

I look forward to the industry’s new Halloween slogan: “Trick or treat yourself.”