Halloween Treats Cost More as U.S. Candy Prices Catch Up to CPI

  • September increase was biggest year-over-year since April 2012
  • Candy, chewing gum get more expensive as consumer prices stall

Satisfying trick-or-treaters may cost Americans much more this Halloween than it did a year ago.

The chart below shows a price index for candy and chewing gum, as compiled monthly by the Labor Department. For the 12 months ended in September, the index rose 5.7 percent, the biggest jump since April 2012. The consumer price index, also displayed in the chart, was unchanged during the same period.

Candy and chewing gum vs. U.S. CPI
Candy and chewing gum vs. U.S. CPI

The candy-and-gum index, calculated since December 1997, is catching up to CPI after setting an almost three-year low in July 2014. The indicator isn’t adjusted for seasonal swings related to Halloween or any other holiday.

Anyone who suspects Halloween demand puts pressure on the candy market would reach a different conclusion by tracking the index’s relative performance throughout its history, according to Christian Zimmermann, a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

“It turns out this is a ghostly idea: There’s literally nothing to see,” Zimmermann wrote yesterday in a posting on the bank’s blog with a similar chart. “The current numbers are virtually indistinguishable.”

Consumer prices for candy and gum were 47 percent higher last month than at the end of 1997, while prices for all items rose 47.5 percent during the same period. Both increases were equivalent to about 2.2 percent a year.

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