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Inflation’s latest victim? Chocolate

July 18, 2022, 2:48 PM UTC
A child eating chocolate.
A child eating chocolate.
Sialitskaya Iryna—EyeEm/Getty Images

Halloween could be less lucrative for trick or treaters if inflation doesn’t ease up soon.

Chocolate sales are going down as prices increase. In the U.S., retail sales volumes of the sweet treat are down between 2% and 3% in the past couple of months, Hershey’s told Reuters.

Chocolate prices are up 8.2% in the past year, according to data from market research firm IRI. As a result, consumers are already changing their habits, favoring individual candy bars in the checkout lane versus the multipacks.

And some customers are eschewing name brands for store-brand chocolates. Sales of the latter have grown 8% in the past six months, IRI data shows. (Cheaper chocolate has lower amounts of cocoa in it.)

Many major chocolate companies, including Hershey’s, Cadbury and Milka are leaning in on shrinkflation to avoid price hikes. That means everything from smaller Cadbury bars to smaller sized bags of Hershey kisses.

So what does that mean for Halloween? People who give out candy might have less than usual—or they’ll have to pay noticeably more to keep the Avengers, Jedi, witches and T-Rex’s happy.

And there will likely be fewer houses giving out full-sized candy bars.

Chocolate is a latecomer to economic pressures. Comfort items, like candy, tend to hold up well in turbulent times. During the pandemic, chocolate saw a surge as consumers stuck at home would buy large quantities in bulk so they’d always have a treat handy.

That self-care extended well past the days of stay-at-home orders. Hershey tells Reuters that until recently, “consumers haven’t really reduced consumption much at all.”

In 2021, chocolate and candy sales increased by 11% compared to 2020 and by more than 15% compared to 2019.

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