Halloween is the UK’s third biggest retail event (IGD), and with more families and young adults buying into the category, a range of flavours, themed displays and in-store theatre are all vital for maximising retail and wholesale sales uplift.

The Halloween occasion represents a significant opportunity to grow sales, during what is now a key period in the UK retail calendar. Pre Covid, 1 in 3 people celebrated either by attending or hosting a Halloween party and 7 out of 10 shoppers did not celebrate Halloween at all in 2020 (IGD).

After more than a year of restrictions and many missing out on trick or treating last year, Halloween is set to be bigger than ever in 2021. Soft drinks and confectionery are still the biggest profit drivers (IGD), with shoppers stocking up on take-home packs of soft drinks for parties and smaller formats to hand out to trick or treaters.

“1 in 3 shoppers buy soft drinks at Halloween, so this is a key category focus for retailers, presenting a real opportunity for wholesalers and cash and carries to boost incremental sales,” says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks.”

Barr Soft Drinks advises stocking up on its best-selling brands, such as The Barr Family carbonates range, which is currently worth £44.2m (IRI), and includes new limited edition Barr Sours. Sour Berry and Sour Apple (PMP 79p, 500ml) which have been developed to create excitement and buzz around the soft drinks fixture, and will be perfectly placed to draw shoppers’ attention and drive incremental seasonal sales.

“Limited edition flavours are always very popular with shoppers, so retailers should make the most of this crucial sales opportunity before it’s gone,” adds Troy.

IRN-BRU, the UK’s No. 1 flavoured carbonate brand (IRI), is a must stock for retailers all year round, but particularly during seasonal occasions and celebrations.

“Bigger pack formats are key here and we would encourage stocking both Original and XTRA variants in 2L, especially throughout autumn and winter,” suggests Troy. “The iconic brand has recently benefitted from a £6m brand investment which saw it burst back onto national TV screens, so shopper awareness is at an all time high.”

Mark Walker, Sales Director at Swizzels, said: “Halloween is the biggest calendar event for sugar confectionery, and Bonfire Night is also hugely important – particularly for 2021 as consumers and retailers hope to make up for last year’s lack of celebrations. So it’s essential to stock a range of best-selling, well known brands and seasonal products that will attract retailers looking to boost sales in the lead up.”

Swizzels has a large range of products suitable for Halloween and Bonfire Night, featuring well-known brands such as Drumsticks, Love Hearts, Double lollies and Refreshers, which offer great value for money and are perfect for sharing.

Swizzels’ Trick or Sweet bag contains a selection of Swizzels favourites such as Double Lollies, Parma Violets, Refresher Bars, Love Hearts, as well as the Sour Apple Refreshers chew bar – making it a must stock for wholesalers to satisfy retailer demand for variety. The Halloween themed packaging makes for a great eye-catching treat to hand out at parties and to trick or treaters. It will also grab the attention of shoppers as they browse, making it an attractive product for retailers.

Swizzels’ variety range is at the forefront of a huge on-pack marketing campaign this Halloween including Loadsa, Bumper Bag, Lots of Lollies and Chew Crew. Shoppers will need to look out for one of five golden Love Hearts rolls hidden in promotional bags to be in with a chance of winning a VIP tour of the Swizzels factory.

“Swizzels is the number one variety pack seller at Halloween and the individually wrapped sweets in packs are perfectly suited to sharing occasions like Halloween,” adds Walker. “Displaying such promotional packs at the forefront alongside Halloween merchandising will help to attract retailers and boost sales. The non-seasonal packaging also ensures retailers can continue to sell any surplus stock after Halloween, into Bonfire Night and beyond, making it an attractive range to stock.”

Another non-seasonal product from Swizzels that is perfect for selling over the Halloween period and beyond is the Sweet Shop Favourites Tub. One of Swizzels’ most popular products for sharing occasions, the tub contains a variety of individually-wrapped favourites including Squashies, Love Hearts and Refreshers, meaning there’s something for everyone, making it a guaranteed seller and a must-stock. Swizzels is the number one tubs seller at Halloween (IRI).

Swizzels will be running a consumer campaign in the lead up to Halloween to encourage shoppers to buy their sharing products and get prepared for the festivities.

“Halloween 2021 falls on a weekend, so it is set to be a spooktacular, Sunday celebration, especially following the frightful experience that we all had during the lockdowns in 2020!” comments Claire James, Trade Marketing Manager at HARIBO.

“We expect this year to be bigger, better and more inclusive than ever with a return to growth for Halloween confectionery. Last year was very much ‘stick and treat’. Here parties and ‘at home’ activities prevailed and trick or treating quietened with so many people in lockdown. But normality should resume this year, with some important hygiene considerations that will support purchase decisions and sales,” adds James.

Two of the most popular attributes when purchasing Halloween confectionery is value and large formats. This is why shareability is the perfect potion for Halloween.

Themed treats and offering variety are also important trends. At the same time, individually wrapped products provide protection and allow people to adhere to strict hygiene measures, while also supporting portion control. Together this creates a Happy Halloween for retailers, shoppers and those receiving seasonal treats.

To support Halloween and to ensure that retailers have the right stock for all shopper missions, HARIBO has prepared treats for sharing, parties and to tantalise tricksters that come knocking at doors.

Maintaining its position as the number one sweets manufacturer, Haribo has a 46.8 per cent share of Halloween leveraged sweets (IRI), and will return several seasonal lines to stores this year. This will include a selection of impulse treats, which are particularly important within independents and include HARIBO Scaremix and TangfasTricks share bags alongside Trick or Treat mini multipacks.

Delivering some fiendish fun for sharing is HARIBO Scaremix, which combines the five pieces found in Starmix with seasonal flavours, including toffee apple Eggs and blood orange Bottles.

TangfasTricks, which experienced good growth during 2020, features tangy and super sour pieces.

HARIBO Trick or Treat contains a mix of sweets including bats, broomsticks, frogs and spider-shaped pieces in a multipack containing ten mini bags.

James adds: “Themed products help retailers to create store theatre, this acts as a beacon and drives shoppers to key locations in store. Products with packaging and pieces that match the occasion also help consumers to get into the spirit of Halloween.

“But our top-selling, all-year-round products also help our retailers to sell through while providing the value, volume and variety that consumers demand.”

All year-round products that help create the perfect potion for parties and trick or treaters are HARIBO’s most popular mini bags and MAOAM’s individually wrapped treats.

Popular Halloween treats, Starmix Minis and Share the Happy 176g multipacks, each contain 11 mini bags.

Share the Happy brings together mini packs of HARIBO’s top sellers: Starmix, Tangfastics, Supermix and Giant Strawbs Gone Mini.

MAOAM also adds a little extra bite in the form of Stripes, MaoMixx and JoyStixx.

“Having the right treats is an important factor for convenience retailers, but knowing when to stock is also critical,” comments James.

“While ranges and limited editions can appear in store as early as August, shoppers start to buy into sweet confectionery for Halloween six weeks ahead. Last-minute purchases create peak shopper activity in the week counting down to the Spooktacular event, and this is an essential timeline for retailers.”

Victoria Gell, Fruity Confections Brand Director, Mars Wrigley, comments: “Worth £82.6 million in retail sales, Halloween continues to present a strong opportunity for retailers to drive seasonal confectionery sales.”

With 2020 seen as a challenging year for all Halloween celebrations, this season is anticipated to present a profitable opportunity for retailers and the wider category.

“Retailers can not only increase consumer confectionery spend with Halloween themed sharing bags and tubs, but the occasion also helps to grow the confectionery category overall,” says Gell. “In order for retailers to succeed during the busy Halloween season, it’s vital to stock customer favourites in a variety of formats.”

‘More to share’ formats remained in growth in 2020 with Mars Wrigley sales increasing by +43.2% on the previous year (Kantar), proving a staple for Halloween celebrations. Tins and Tubs also grew in sales, with Celebrations 650g tub remaining the number one SKU for Halloween from 2018-2020 (Nielsen). By stocking funsize SKUs, sharing bags and tubs retailers can reach out to trick or treaters, those throwing Halloween gatherings and celebrations and also those who choose a night in to watch horror movies together.

Scary movies are becoming an increasingly popular ritual that starts to build excitement in the run-up to Halloween. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to stock a range of sharing bag treats, perfect for the Big Night In occasion. ‘More to Share’ bags from Mars Wrigley Confectionery are the ideal accompaniment, whether watching a scary film at home or at the cinema, now restrictions have been lifted.

The confectionery market predicts a large increase in trick or treat participation this year compared with 2020 where strict COVID-19 restrictions were in place. Funsize packs remain a staple for the Halloween occasion, with Mars Wrigley holding the largest share of Halloween funsize sales of 28.1% of the category in 2020 (Kantar).

“Many consumers purchase a mix of chocolate and sugar confectionery so retailers should look to stock a variety of treats that are available in different pack sizes to support consumer missions during the occasion,” suggests Gell.

Last year, Mars Wrigley’s most loved brands secured top rankings in the bestselling confectionery lines in funsize – including Maltesers, Milky Way and Skittles.

Fun Size products are a relevant format during Halloween due to their shareability, which saw the format generate £27m in value sales last season alone. Perfect to share with friends and family during an Halloween party or trick or treating activities, Mars Wrigley UK have six of the Top 10 Fun Size SKUs across blockbuster brands including Mars, Skittles, Maltesers, Twix and Milky Way as well as Fun Size variety packs.

This June, Mars Wrigley launched a brand-new twist on its popular Skittles Giants- Skittles Giants Crazy Sours. Research has shown that fruity confections shoppers expect variety in flavour and texture with Sours being the most incremental flavour after Fruit in the category. Like its counterpart, Skittles Giants Crazy Sours are three times the size of standard Skittles and have a soft chewy centre designed to strike taste buds with sourness, delivering an intense, fruity, mouth-watering flavour – perfect for a trick or treat.

Available in a £1 PMP treat bag (125g), a 141g value pouch and 170g grocery pouch, Skittles Giants Crazy Sours is available in a variety of formats, perfect for the different occasions found within Halloween.

Following the success of the Skittles Giants launch last year, the Sours range is designed to appeal to a wider range of shoppers, which in turn can help drive overall category growth.

A Nestle spokesperson commented: “Chocolate confectionery sales grew at Halloween 2020, however both sugar and chocolate confectionery are key to the season. This Halloween it will be important for retailers to ensure they stock a strong range with a breadth of choice across both chocolate and sugar confectionery in order to maximise sales.”

Nestlé Sharing Bags performed well at Halloween 2020, with five best-selling products (IRI): Milkybar Buttons 103g; Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles 150g; Munchies 104g; Aero Bubbles Peppermint 102g; and Rowntrees Randoms 150g.

Smarties saw strong growth at Halloween 2020 (+24.7%), driven by Smarties Buttons which was launched last year in both Milk and White Chocolate variants. Aero (+9.6%) and Munchies (+7.9%) also benefitted from strong growth, led by the Aero Peppermint Sharing Bag 102g and new flavour variants from Munchies including a cookie dough flavour (IRI).

“Bring shoppers into the season early to encourage the repeat purchase of Halloween confectionery,” suggests the spokesperson. “Driving frequency of purchase is a key opportunity for 2021. Ensure the unmissable visibility of Halloween confectionery in store to drive impulse purchases for the season and drive penetration.”

There are also opportunities to drive ease of shop by tapping into shopping missions which happen around Halloween, such as ‘Big Night In’ which can incorporate categories such as soft drinks/BWS, confectionery and crisps into a display to allow shoppers to find everything they need to celebrate in one place.

Halloween confectionery remains incremental, therefore giving it additional space in store will be effective in driving increased sales.

“Retailers should ensure they are stocking the best sellers for Halloween, with products for ‘trick or treat’ and party occasions but also social get togethers and movie nights to ensure they’re meeting shopper needs,” suggests the spokesperson.

“As a manufacturer we aim to have clear dialogue with retailers on both our own best sellers and their best sellers, to ensure they have sufficient stock of these particular products,” adds the spokesperson. “We also aim to provide category advice, including guidance on merchandising Halloween products, and tapping into key occasions such as the “Big Night In” occasion. This will help drive rate of sale within the retail outlet, as well as accelerating sales out from the wholesaler.”

Nestle forecasts growth in the Halloween occasion this year, particularly as there are increased opportunities for people to get together under the current Covid guidelines compared to last year. Only 18% of households planned to celebrate Halloween in 2020 compared to 47% who actually celebrated in 2019 therefore Nestle expects to see increased participation this year (Kantar).

Paul Baker, Founder of St Pierre Groupe, comments: “Whilst there was a marked decline in Halloween parties and get-togethers last year, they still happened. However, they took place with new considerations in play. Any gatherings last year – and likely this year too – will be taking place outdoors. Winter barbecues are a growing trend and entertaining outdoors calls for different types of food. Guests need to be able to eat handheld items, but hosts don’t want to compromise on flavour.”

St Pierre’s products offer an upgrade, with delicate brioche for elevated bonfire burgers and Halloween hot dogs.

Sales of fresher for longer products are also increasing as a result of the last year with two in five (37 per cent) people intending to buy more longer-life food and drink products in the future (Mintel, June 2020).

St Pierre Groupe’s products all benefit from extended life, which is ideal for the upcoming Halloween and Bonfire Night season. Multi-pack, multi-use products that stay fresher for longer will appeal to hosts who are looking to stock up but don’t want to waste food if the party is rained off. Equally, wholesalers can stock up too ahead of such events and know that they won’t waste stock if there’s a change in restrictions or plans.

Shoppers are looking for products that offer versatility to help minimise waste and cater for multiple meal occasions, including their winter gatherings. They want foods that offer taste, convenience, versatility, and good value, so there is an opportunity for bakery brands, with long-life multi-pack formats, like those from St Pierre, Baker Street and Paul Hollywood.

Products that offer an extended shelf-life will be a must-stock for wholesalers, as they have become increasingly popular with consumers since the beginning of the pandemic. They also enable wholesalers to provide a strong bakery offering throughout the year, minimising the risk of wastage.

All of the St Pierre Groupe brands offer an extended shelf-life, which is resulting in growth across the board. Its brands are now worth £34m and it is now the UK’s fifth biggest Branded Bakery supplier (Nielsen Value Sales – MAT June 2021).

“Wholesalers should look to be strategic with their in-store merchandising when it comes to the Halloween occasion as this will encourage upselling,” says Baker. “Wholesalers can do this by grouping products together and inspire usage beyond the usual trick or treating fare. Outdoor events went ahead this year and drove sales – so wholesalers ready to cater to that will benefit.”

In the two weeks covering the Halloween and Bonfire Night period in 2020, total burger buns and hot dog rolls sales jumped from £925k to £1.16mn – so clearly there is opportunity in this occasion for retailers. In the same period, St Pierre Groupe’s St Pierre and Baker Street lines in the sector increased 26 per cent compared to the previous two weeks.


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