By Cara Smith | NerdWallet
Forget the ghouls and ghosts — inflation is spooky enough. And it’s coming for your Halloween candies.
Candy and gum prices rose 7.5% between September 2022 and September 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For context, the broader category of grocery prices increased 3.7% over that time frame.
Why is candy so expensive?
Beyond overall inflation, which rose 3.7% year over year since September 2023, there are a few more reasons why candy is so expensive right now. The cost of raw sugar reached an 11-year high in April, per CNBC, due to the effects of extreme weather on the crop, as well as rising demand.
And a U.S. agricultural policy that requires 85% of sugar purchases to come from domestic processors is further tightening an already strained supply, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Consumers are taking notice. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. households that celebrate Halloween, 41% of respondents said that inflation has impacted how much they plan to spend on Halloween candy this year, according to Advantage Solutions, an e-commerce analytics firm.
Go for this cheap Halloween candy in 2023
Thankfully, there are some candies whose prices actually fell year over year, according to a new report from Pattern, an e-commerce analytics firm. So you can still indulge in some sweet treats without exceeding your budget.
Pattern tracked the price changes of more than 30 types of candy on Amazon every day for one year. First, Pattern data scientists calculated a baseline price for specific candies — such as Twix, Milky Way or Skittles — by taking the average of the 10 most popular versions of those candies.
For example, Milky Way’s 10 most popular products may include a two-pack of candy bars, a 36-pack of candy bars and a bag of Milky Way “Fun Size” minis. Those prices, as well as the prices of the seven other most popular products, would then be averaged. That average would represent the Milky Way baseline price.
Then, Pattern compared that initial baseline cost from October 2022 with each candy’s baseline price one year later.
By measuring how each candy’s baseline price changes over time, a picture emerges of how each candy’s price rose or fell over a given time period — regardless of product.
In the 12 months leading up to Oct. 9, 2023, the analysis found that prices fell on Amazon for these candies:
Hot Tamales (-44.90%).
Milk Duds (-7.58%).
Milky Way (-4.28%).
Kit Kat (-1.63%).
Those percentages translate to significant real-world savings. Last year, Hot Tamales’ baseline cost on Amazon was $45.69 on Amazon. Today, that figure is 44.9% less, at $25.32, per Pattern. Even Milky Way’s much smaller percentage change of -4.28% means the candy’s average price dropped from $21.70 in 2022 to $19.01 in 2023.
To avoid inflation’s hardest-hit treats, stay away from these candies, whose prices rose the most dramatically over that time period: Airheads (+26.34%), Baby Ruth (+13.51%), candy corn (+13.24%), PayDay (+12.0%) and Tootsie Rolls (+11.36%). Airheads’ average cost was $10.15 in 2022; today, that figure is $15.32.
How to save money on Halloween
With expensive winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah just around the corner, here’s how to spend less on Halloween, beyond avoiding the priciest treats.
Avoid buying your favorite candy. Seems counterintuitive, right? But, as Fortera Credit Union notes, you’re more likely to munch on your favorite treats before Halloween, leaving you in a pinch on the big night. Stock up on sweets you won’t be tempted to eat.
Make your own costume. You can also ask friends if they want to trade costumes, recommends Farmers Trust & Savings Bank. If you’re responsible for kids’ costumes, reach out to other families in your social circle and see if any parents would be interested in a costume swap.
Trade home and yard decor with friends and family. For decorations, buy art supplies from a dollar store, per Advisors Management Group, an investment firm in Wisconsin.
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