Customers are taking their time with Halloween shopping this year, which has led Hershey to rely on last-minute candy purchases to meet its goals. The stakes are high as cocoa prices have been soaring and regular chocolate sales have been slowing. Hershey's CEO, Michele Buck, stated that consumers have returned to purchasing candy closer to Halloween after concerns about supply chain and availability prompted earlier purchases last year. While it's still uncertain how this year's sales will turn out, early indications suggest that sales have been lagging behind last year's performance. However, Hershey is well-prepared with full shelves and no supply issues. The holiday season is crucial for candy brands, with Halloween accounting for a significant portion of Hershey's annual business. Hershey's regular chocolate sales have been struggling, which adds pressure on Halloween items. The company's North America Confectionery segment saw growth in net sales, but volumes declined, indicating that people are spending more but buying less. Factors such as higher interest rates, the return of student loan repayments, and reduced financial assistance have made consumers more price-sensitive. To cater to these consumers, Hershey has been focusing on selling at dollar stores and discount outlets, exploring options like selling smaller sizes at lower prices. Overall, US candy sales have been growing, but unit sales have fallen. Cocoa prices have been soaring due to strong demand and poor yields, which may pose challenges for companies like Hershey in holding prices steady.
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