*Figures cited in this report reflect first-party Amazon sales only.

The retailer’s year is punctuated by a series of “big” days. For some, the bulk of traffic takes place on the day itself, like on Black Friday or Boxing Day; for others the sales occur in the weeks leading up to the event, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In either case, these days act as tent-poles for retailers’ annual sales and marketing strategy. Halloween may not be the biggest tent-pole of the year, but it attracts a unique audience and is certainly one of the most important sales periods for brands in the candy and costumes sectors.

Halloween on Amazon Chocolate Candy Non-Chocolate Candy Total Candy Costumes
September 2016 $2.5M $2.5M $5M N/A
October 2016 $5.5M $3M $8.5M $40M
MoM Lift 2016 121% 26% 73% N/A
September 2017 $3M $3.5M $6.5M $12M
October 2017 $8M $5M $13M $40M
MoM Lift 2017 170% 39% 100% 239%
September YoY Growth 19% 38% 29% N/A
October YoY Growth 43% 52% 46% <1%

Amazon Candy

Unsurprisingly, Amazon sells a lot more candy in October than in September. This year, sales in October were $13M, double September’s total sales and a 53% increase compared to October 2016. Halloween candy is growing faster YoY than the Candy product group as a whole: in the period of October 2016 through September 2017, candy grew at the slower rate of 35% YoY, while in September 2017 (which more or less represents an average month) candy grew by only 29%. This suggests that the bulk of growth in the product group occurs mainly around “candy holidays” – Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter. This trend is consistent with the overall decline of junk food as consumers continue to move toward healthier, fresh and organic foods. Ironically, the fact that today’s Amazon customers are more health-conscious likely helps to drive the growth in holiday candy sales, as Halloween is one of the few times of year to indulge your sweet-tooth guilt-free.

October 2017 Top-selling Candies Subcategory Rank 2016 Rank
MARS Chocolate Halloween Candy Variety Mix 126.3-Ounce 400-Piece Bag Chocolate Candy 1 N/A*
MARS Chocolate Favorites Halloween Candy Bars Variety Mix 96.2-Ounce 250-Piece Bag Chocolate Candy 2 32
MARS Chocolate Minis Size Candy Bars Variety Mix 67.2-Ounce 240-Piece Bag Chocolate Candy 3 5
MARS Chocolate and More Favorites Halloween Candy Variety Mix 95.1-Ounce 250-Piece Bag Chocolate Candy 4 30
Hershey Chocolate Candy Bar Variety Pack, HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate, REESE’S Chocolate Candy 5 1
Brach’s Sweet and Sour Kiddie Candy Mix, 69.8 Ounce Chocolate Candy 6 N/A*
MARS Chocolate Fall Harvest Minis Size Candy Bars Variety Mix 45.8-Ounce Bag Chocolate Candy 7 3
Nestle Halloween Candy Assorted Sugar Mix-Ups, 200 pieces, 53.3 oz Bag Non-Chocolate Candy 8 25
Airheads Bars Variety Pack (60 Bars) Chocolate Candy 9 123
Skittles Starburst, Fruity Candy Variety Box, 30 Single Packs Non-Chocolate Candy 10 24

*New to Amazon September of this Year (Halloween specific item)

And the preferred treat this Halloween? Definitely chocolate. In an average month, the Candy category is usually about a 50/50 split between Chocolate Candy and Non-Chocolate Candy – in fact in September 2017 non-chocolate actually sold 17% more – but in October chocolate experiences a much larger sales lift. In October 2017, chocolate sales nearly tripled MoM, growing by 170% to earn $8M in 1P sales, nearly two-thirds of total candy sales.

But even within chocolate there has been a shakeup. Hershey, the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, supplied Amazon’s bestselling Halloween candy in 2016, a candy bar variety pack, as well as well as four other items in the top 10. In 2017, the former top seller has dropped to #5 and is now the only Hershey’s item appearing in the top 10. The real winner of this Halloween season is Mars, which holds the top 4 bestselling candy items overall, all of them variety packs. The top item, a Halloween-specific Mars variety mix in a whopping 400-piece size, is a Halloween-specific item not available in 2016.

Amazon Costumes

October 2017 Top-selling Costumes Rank 2016 Rank
Rubie’s Costume Co Jurassic World T-Rex Inflatable Costume, Multi, One Size 1 1
Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk – Amazon Exclusive 2 8
Leg Avenue Men’s Top Gun Flight Suit Costume, Khaki/Green, Medium/Large 3 2
DC Comics Wonder Woman T-Shirt With Cape And Headband, Red, Large Costume 4 17
Leg Avenue Women’s Spandex Printed Glow-In-The-Dark Skeleton Catsuit, Black 5 33
Ghostbusters Costume With Inflatable Backpack, Tan, Adult Standard 6 5
Leg Avenue Women’s Spandex Printed Glow-In-The-Dark Skeleton Catsuit, Black 7 22
elope Where’s Waldo Adult Costume Kit, Red/White, Small/Medium 8 6
Dragon Ninja Weapon Backpack Weapon Set 9 252
Rubie’s Costume Co Jurassic World T-Rex Inflatable Costume (Child’s) 10 4

 

If you read the news, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Halloween costumes are highly trend-driven: some variation of “This year’s hottest Halloween costumes” appears in every publication. But if Amazon’s sales are any indication, most costume shoppers aren’t trying to make a statement. Six out of the top ten items have carried over from last year, including Rubie’s T-Rex Inflatable Costume which has been the bestselling costume since mid-2016 and currently holds more than 6 times the sales of the runner-up. None of the 10 bestselling costumes in October 2017 were new – they were all popular costume choices in 2016 as well. Just about tied for second place are the Leg Avenue Men’s Top Gun Flight Suit, the #2 item in 2016, and the Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk, an Amazon Exclusive item which ranked as #8 last year. Wonder Woman, Ghostbusters, Where’s Waldo, and the child’s version of the Rubie’s inflatable T-Rex all carry over from last year’s top sellers as well.

Overall, Amazon’s sales of Halloween costumes did not grow by any significant amount YoY this October, in contrast to the strong growth of candy, but the category remains the much larger of the two during the Halloween season. Even with negligible category growth, Amazon sold $40M worth of costumes in October 2017, more than triple the revenue of the entire Candy category. That’s a lift in sales of nearly 250% compared to September, which proves how critical the Halloween season is for costume manufacturers.

Despite inevitable changes and yearly trends, the “big” days that punctuate the retail year are key opportunities for both new and established brands to reach new customers and establish their positions as a go-to brand for that audience. Each of these days skews toward different industries and Halloween is the biggest season for brands in the candy and costume space. In Candy, we’ve seen Mars outcompete Hershey by upping their variety pack game and pushing holiday-specific items. In Costumes, we’ve seen that one year’s most popular outfits have the legs to retain strong sales into the next year and beyond. Now it’s time for brands to start planning for next Halloween.

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