This opinion piece by NCA President & CEO John Downs was originally published by Morning Consult.
This Halloween is going to be a blowout. Retailers are going strong on their Halloween sets with about 27 percent more seasonal items on display per store than in 2020. Consumers are planning to celebrate in a big way, including young parents – 93 percent of whom say they plan to celebrate Halloween this year. And sales of chocolate and candy are up 48 percent over 2020 and nearly 60 percent over 2019.
All of this is excellent news for Halloween enthusiasts and those of us in the chocolate and candy industry, but this celebration does not come without its challenges. While most of the Halloween candy that consumers see on store shelves is made right here in the United States, much of the gifting and seasonal packaging is imported from other countries. With the well-documented bottleneck in the supply chain, it is more expensive for businesses and is taking longer to get Halloween products on store shelves this year. All of this reminds us of what we faced last Halloween and that we are still feeling the impacts of COVID-19 after so many months.
Yet, in 2020, we were waiting for a moment like this year, when Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said, “Go out there and enjoy Halloween.” This presents consumers with an opportunity to build on what they created last year when they refused to let the COVID-19 pandemic dampen their Halloween spirit. Americans found creative and innovative ways to share chocolate and candy as part of the 2020 season — from candy chutes to ziplines to homemade robots. And according to our latest survey, there’s much more creativity to come this year. We recently found that 82 percent of people are confident they will find safe and creative ways to celebrate the Halloween season — whether it’s fun from a distance, Halloween at home or something in between.
Every community across the country will have a different approach to celebrating the Halloween season. That could mean spending more time getting creative with Halloween plans or just more time celebrating the season throughout this entire month of October. That being said, the vast majority of the country is planning to get outdoors for some classic trick-or-treat fun on Oct. 31: 80 percent of people say they plan to trick-or-treat in 2021. Chocolate and candy stand out as iconic in the history and tradition of Halloween – and they will continue to play a fun and unique role these next few weeks as we approach Halloween night.
No matter how you decide to celebrate, it’s essential to keep in mind the safety guidance from our public health officials. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently joined Dr. Fauci and others in reminding us that trick-or-treating and outdoor Halloween celebrations fit into what we now know to be safe fall activities. We couldn’t agree more, which is why we put together safety tips and tricks for treating during the Halloween season at AlwaysATreat.com/Halloween.
We understand very well now that our homes are more than what we could have imagined they were 18 months ago: They became our offices, classrooms and gyms. And this year again, they will become the place for a virtual costume party, a Halloween candy scavenger hunt or a spooky movie where your favorite chocolate and candy play a leading role. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, treats like chocolate and candy have helped keep us connected even when we couldn’t be together.
We all need a little break from the uncertainty of the last 18 months. Not unlike our favorite songs or movies, Halloween chocolate and candy take us back to a simpler time and inspire us to be creative. So, let’s get outside these next few weeks, have some fun and stay safe while we show our friends, family and neighbors #HowWeHalloween.