Candy land

Retailers should prepare for the holidays by making it easy to buy lots of candy.
Nora Caley

With the holiday season approaching, consumers are looking for inexpensive gifts and treats. Retailers have an opportunity to offer an assortment of candy and chocolate that can serve as a fun gift, and provide relief for the harried shopper.

According to a December 2022 report from the National Confectioners Association, more than half of U.S. consumers surveyed said they planned to celebrate the winter holidays by gifting chocolate and candy. Also according to NCA, 93% of Americans said chocolate and candy “make the winter holidays sweeter.”

[Read more: Tough times call for candy]

People bought candy and candy-related novelty items as gifts, in an effort to spend less money and still feel festive. 

“When you look at 2022 numbers, there was a pretty sizable increase in units and dollars for $10 to $20 gifting,” said Jeff Greenwald, marketing manager for CandyRific. “It’s attributed to the state of the economy. People are cutting back.”

[Read more: Hershey’s, Warner Bros. announce limited-edition Harry Potter products]

Last holiday season, CandyRific saw healthy sales of its M&M’S dispensers, which retail for $10 to $20. Retailers also ordered a wider variety of items, as consumers bought many different products for people on their gift lists. “People are picking up impulse gifts more than they have in the past,” Greenwald said. “I don’t think that’s going to change.”


“Starting in November, 82% of consumers begin looking for holiday treats and 63% will put out a holiday candy dish.”
– Mike Gilroy, vice president of trade development and sponsorship, Mars Wrigley

Sweet Gifts

Consumers shop early for holiday candy, and they buy treats for various purposes. “Starting in November, 82% of consumers begin looking for holiday treats and 63% will put out a holiday candy dish,” said Mike Gilroy, vice president of trade development and sponsorship at Mars Wrigley. “Throughout December, we see consumers taking part in holiday rituals, with 80% taking part in holiday baking and 73% buying and giving stocking stuffers.”

Gilroy said Mars makes sure retailers have a range of products on shelves early. The company also redesigned product display boxes to maximize shelf space and save labor, with the goal of improving product sell-through.

Another way to improve product turnover is to offer a variety of items that reflect current trends. Global flavors are popular right now, so Jelly Belly launched Boba Milk Tea-inspired jelly bean flavors including Mango Milk Tea, Taro Milk Tea, Matcha Milk Tea, Strawberry Milk Tea and Thai Milk Tea. “With more international flavors sweeping people’s palettes, Jelly Belly is keeping a close eye on those that rise to the top so our flavor innovators can hit the ground running,” said Robert Swaigen, vice president of global marketing for Jelly Belly.

Retailers can hit the ground running by merchandising a variety of flavors and pack types to suit various occasions.. “Holiday gatherings and travel are expected to be very strong,” Swaigen said. “Consumers will need that perfect sweet for holiday gifting, travel, stocking stuffers and more.”

Drug stores have an advantage in holiday candy sales. “Holiday shopper satisfaction is high among drug retailers,” said Mark Pestana, senior director, team lead drug customers for The Hershey Company. “There is a channel opportunity to convert more everyday shoppers to shop the holiday assortment.”

Citing Hershey research, Pestana said drug retailers get credit for convenience, deals and selection as top reasons for being favored among shoppers. Drug retailers can merchandise candy for holidays, for treat-yourself moments and to play a role in bringing people together during social events.

Hershey research also indicated that even as consumers are tightening their wallets in light of inflation, they are spending more on groceries and cutting back on dining out. Pestana noted that chocolate ranks as the second most resilient treat, with 44% of consumers claiming to eat it as a treat at least once a week.

Gummies are also popular, especially among younger shoppers. “Gen Z is loving gummies that aren’t traditional,” said Molly Jacobson, director of business development at Frankford Candy. “They want innovation that’s going to excite them.” Among the company’s products are Gummy Lunchables and the Krabby Patties Combo Meal.

Manufacturers and retailers will pay close attention to holiday sales. “All eyes will be on sell throughs this holiday season in hopes that product assortments, pricing and timing has been planned accordingly to successfully meet consumers’ reaction to inflationary pressures,” Jacobson said.

mars wrigley
mars wrigley

Product Picks

Mars Wrigley

M&M’S Toasty Vanilla is a limited- edition flavor twist featuring a mix of white chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, wrapped in seasonally colored candy shells.

DOVE Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Reindeer features a creamy peanut butter filling in a reindeer shaped milk chocolate coating.


Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly Popcorn has two new offerings: Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn Pouch Bag, a movie theater-inspired pouch bag, and Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn Cart Bean Machine & Bank, which has a handle to dispense a handful of Buttered Popcorn jelly beans.

hot chocolate
hot chocolate

Frankford Candy

Frankford Hot Chocolate BOMB with Chocolate Chips 

The brand’s best-selling Hot Chocolate BOMB now includes chocolate chips inside for a creamier hot chocolate drink.



Disney100 Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse Candy Character Cases

Available as Disney Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse characters, these candy cases are approximately 4” tall and come as a two pack, complete with 0.70 oz. of assorted fruit flavored dextrose candies (natural flavors and colors). With special metallic accents and matching silver boxes, these two-pack gift sets are a perfect gift. There is also a loop on the top to hang the character case from a chain or string.


Ferrara Candy Company

Wonka Magic Hat Gummies

Ahead of the Warner Bros. Pictures movie Wonka hitting theaters this December, the Wonka Candy brand is making its debut with a fun treat. Each pack of Wonka Magic Hat Gummies includes an assortment of tasty, top hat-shaped gummies in four fruity flavors: Strawberry Watermelon, Raspberry Grape, Orange Strawberry, and Magic Berries. Every Magic Hat Gummi includes a sweet surprise with each bite. The fruity gummies come in 4 oz and 6 oz bags.

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