Fewer new candies materialize

MILWAUKEE — With a big pullback evident in consumer spending, candy makers were a bit spooked about this year's Halloween season. They introduced fewer new Halloween-themed products for their third-biggest selling season of the year.

But analysts say the companies have nothing to worry about: They expect this year to be bigger than ever as people seek a break from the downright scary economy and stressful campaign season.

Candy makers, judging by the fewer debuts of Halloween candy this year, weren't sure how the holiday would go because of the economy, said Marcia Mogelonsky, a senior research analyst with Mintel International in Chicago. But despite the ominous economy, Halloween seems to be getting stronger.

"Halloween for grown-ups is a chance to let off some steam, and for kids it's a chance for grown-ups to prove to kids the world is not falling apart," she said.

Research firm IBISWorld Inc. predicts that total retail spending on Halloween will be up 5 percent this year to $5.77 billion, with one-third of that on candy.

There were 35 new chocolate products for this season, compared with 49 last year, Mogelonsky said. For sugar and gum confections, new product launches went from 119 to 54 this year.

"It says to me that manufacturers are perhaps going into the holiday season a little more cautiously than they did last year, because it's very hard to sell that stuff after Halloween, You lose money on it when you mark it down after Halloween," she said.