CLEVELAND — Valentine’s Day is just one week away and according to the National Retail Federation, spending will likely reach nearly $24 billion this year.
That’s nearly $2 billion more than shoppers spent in 2021 and the driving force behind the numbers could be candy.
Like most businesses across the United States, b.a. Sweetie Candy Company in Cleveland, as well as the Spangler Candy Company near Toledo, have faced a variety of challenges during the pandemic.
From ingredient shortages to shipping delays, they haven’t been excluded from the supply chain problems that have plagued nearly everyone and the two sweet stops are making sure the shelves stay stocked.
“It's our smallest of our four major candy seasons for selling candy. But it's an important one,” said the owner of B.A. Sweetie Candy Co Tom Sheiman. “Fortunately, a lot of the menu items we manufacture ourselves, like our Humphrey popcorn balls or our Campbell's popcorn.”
Meanwhile, the Spangler Candy Company says they’ve been finding solutions to handle similar challenges all throughout the pandemic. Spangler makes one of the most popular Valentine’s Day treats: Conversation Sweethearts.
“Over the years, they've become integrated into every day and special moments from marriage proposals, classroom reading lessons and cake decorating,” said Diana Eschhofen, director of communications for Spangler. “We make about 450 million sweethearts, candies, individual hearts every year.”
In 2019, there was a shortage of sweethearts just two weeks before the holiday as Spangler was during buying the NECCO Candy Company. This year, they’ll be in full stock and full of new phrases.
“We've always had sayings like ‘Be Mine’ and ‘Hug Me’ and ‘Cutie Pie’ and that sort of thing. But we’re adding 16 new sayings that are words of encouragement,” Eschhofen said. “We really want those sayings to echo the words of encouragement that we remember from coaches, from teammates, from mentors, people who've brightened our days and made our time better.”
The National Confectioners Association reports Valentine's Day sales in 2022 are also expected to benefit from the rising trend of “self-care,” with more consumers increasingly looking for little moments to treat themselves with sweets during the pandemic.
“Americans actually enjoy chocolate and candy about two to three times per week, and that even extends throughout these holiday times when we're looking to celebrate,” said Lauren Boland, Director of Communications for the National Confectioners Association. “People are really looking to extend the celebrating time. It’s not just celebrating the day; it's about celebrating the season.”
Last month, the association found 91% of people say they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. Ninety-three percent said they’d like to receive a gift of chocolate and candy.
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