The Halloween candy is out.
It's not everywhere yet, but that's how it starts. A convenience store here, a health and beauty supply store there, a little space in the seasonal aisle of a local SuperValu (SVU - Get Report) subsidiary later and you're knee deep in "fun sized" Snickers and packs of Smarties seconds after the last Labor Day traveler gets home.
"The advantage for Halloween goods to be out early is that there's so much shopping for back-to-school that some retailers feel like even if they don't buy it now, they'll see it," says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations at the National Retail Federation. "They'll remember seeing it at that store and go back and get it."
Retailers and candy companies such as Hershey (HSY - Get Report), Tootsie Roll (TR - Get Report) and Kraft (KFT) have good reason to sweeten the pot early. Halloween candy alone is a $1.8 billion industry, according to the NRF. That's almost double what was spent on adult halloween costumes last year, more than double what was spent on children's costumes and nearly $150 million more than Americans spent on Halloween decorations. No amount of sugar and preservatives can give Halloween candy a longer shelf life when supermarkets need the aisle space for Thanksgiving offerings and everyone else is clearing the shelves for candy canes and red-and-green Hershey's Kisses and M&Ms."Sales for Halloween drop off immediately the day after Halloween," Butler says. "It's not like Christmas stuff, where you still have some selling in the days after the Christmas holiday."