WASHINGTON (TheStreet) --Halloween may be a celebration of all things spooky, but it's the sweetest time of year for candy companies. The majority of trick-or-treaters will be filling their bags with candy bars made by Hershey (HSY), Mars and Nestle (NESN).
But small candy makers have found ways to get in on the action by building a year-round market for their products. The key is to fill a specialized niche that appeals to a specific sweet-toothed consumer.
Overall, Halloween candy represents more than $2 billion in retail sales, making it a crucial sales period. But the candy industry overall has been holding up well all year.
"Confectionery sales in the U.S. have increased almost 3% in the past year, very normal sales growth for the industry," says Susan Whiteside of the National Confectioners Association. "This is probably because candy and chocolate are the ultimate affordable luxuries, a little piece of happiness for less than a dollar." The fact that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year should also mean an uptick in sales compared to last year. "More people will be home to give candy to trick-or-treaters. More community centers and commercial operations will host gatherings during daylight hours and more adults will celebrate with nighttime parties," says Whiteside. The National Confectioners Association estimates that two-thirds of its members are small businesses. How are they staking a claim to part of that $2 billion pie?
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