Units Struggle As Category Dollar Sales Continue To Climb


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Washington — Chocolate, non-chocolate candy, gum and mints continued to grow dollar sales over the weeks ending May 19th, according to data insights firm Circana. In multi-outlet channels including convenience stores, total confectionery sales increased 4.8 percent during the past year and 2.5 percent for the past four weeks. Chocolate was the biggest contributor to sales, while non-chocolate candy was the biggest contributor to sales growth, points out Anne-Marie Roerink, of 210 Analytics, LLC.

Reviewing chocolate sector performance, a tough Easter season for chocolate softened year-on-year dollar gains in the 12- and 52-week views. While dollar sales still increased by 2.4 percent versus year ago to $19.5 billion, this is far below total category performance.

Other areas that pulled down the chocolate dollar performance include gift box and sugarfree chocolate, Roerink notes. Chocolate unit sales were down 5.5 percent for the latest 52 weeks, with declines in all areas. Novelty chocolate got the closest to year-ago results, with a decrease of just 0.7 percent in the 52-week view, whereas Easter and sugarfree chocolate experienced double-digit declines.

Chocolate sales performance is also negatively affected by movement in drug stores, which have been experiencing struggles in the past few holidays as well as everyday sales, says Roerink. Convenience and grocery stores had a similar overall chocolate performance.

In the non-chocolate sector, 52-week sales surpassed $12.5 billion, up 7.6 percent versus last year’s levels. The big contributors to growth included novelty, breath fresheners, and seasonal candy. The shorter four- and 12-week periods also reveal above-average dollar sales gains.

While reflecting a stronger performance compared to chocolate, non-chocolate candy unit sales also lost some ground, according to Roerink. For the latest 52 weeks, unit sales were down 2.1 percent, showing across the board declines with the one exception of novelty non-chocolate. Convenience stores outperformed the total market in non-chocolate candy performance, with a unit sales gain of 0.4 percent for the past year.

Gum sales patterns mirrored those of non-chocolate, and chocolate, with an 8.1 percent gain in dollar sales, while unit sales fell 1.9 percent behind year-ago levels in the 52-week view. Sugarless gum is the big seller and had the stronger performance, with unit sales up 1.5 percent during the latest 52 weeks, though they have fallen behind year-ago levels in the shorter four- and 12-week periods, says Roerink.