Just 35% of Americans surveyed this year said they would put out candy for trick-or-treaters, down 14% from last year, according to a consumer survey of more than 900 adults from market research company Advantage Solutions.
And of those who plan to hand out candy, only 54% said they expected to spend the same amount of money on candy as they did in previous years, with job losses and furloughs still haunting the country, as more than 880,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. What's more, around 1 million unemployed workers have been seeking financial aid each week for the past six months.
And some of the biggest candy makers have already been prepping for sluggish candy sales well ahead of fall.
"If trick-or-treat tends to be a little lower than expectation, clearly we’ll focus even more on the 'treat for me' and the 'candy bowl' occasion," Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey's Company, said on a second-quarter earnings call in July.
"We already shifted some of our portfolios to more everyday packaging to protect the downside, should Halloween sales be a little bit lighter, to really manage that liability," Buck said.
Other retailers like Party City, which sells costumes and candy, are banking on consumers celebrating from a social distance with Halloween-themed yard decor, like skull graveyards and signs to greet trick-or-treaters coming by. A separate survey from Party City shows that while 96% of Americans plan to celebrate the spooky holiday, 70% will seek out an alternative to trick-or-treating, participating in things like neighborhood parades instead.