When is the best time to buy Halloween candy?
Plus, other ways to save money on goodies for trick-or-treaters
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Last year, I picked up two giant bags of Halloween candy two days before the holiday. This was a bad idea. It was slim pickings in the store, and the two 50-piece bags cost me something like $20.
It turns out that's just a bit above the national average: According to Ibotta, a popular shopping app, the average American spends approximately $16.45 on Halloween candy.
Unlike Easter and Valentine's Day, we can’t exactly wait until the day after Halloween to buy candy—at least for the sake of trick-or-treaters. But do we have to hoard candy in early September if we want to save a bit of money? Thankfully, no.
In a recent analysis, Ibotta discovered that shoppers got the best deals on candy four days before Halloween, when the average price was just $1.94 per unit. For those who waited until the day before All Hallow’s Eve, the median cost rose more than 80 cents to $2.75 per unit. Based on this information, I bought at the worst possible time last year.
But as I can attest, sometimes life gets in the way and you forget to buy candy ahead of time (or you eat the Halloween candy you picked up early). So, if you find yourself without a good sugar stash on October 30, here are some tips to save a little bit of cash on some decent candy.
1. Take advantage of sales
A variety of candy sounds nice, but you know what sounds even nicer? A buy one, get one free deal. Many stores, from drugstores like CVS to grocery stores like Stop & Shop, offer these promotions right through Halloween. Though your choices will be limited to what’s eligible for the deal, you’ll be rewarded in savings.
According to The Kitchn, the best brick-and-mortar stores to get Halloween candy are Target, Walmart, and Costco. At Target, you can get Halloween-themed Sweet Tarts for just $2.50; at Walmart you can get glow-in-the-dark Kit-Kats for just $2.90; and, according to The Kitchn’s report, at Costco, you can get almost six pounds of gummies for $14.
2. Use coupons and buy in bulk
Manufacturers know how many people are on the hunt for Halloween candy every October—and they want your business. You’ll find plenty of coupons, or even rebates, for candy in your grocery store’s circular, in the paper, or through apps like Coupon Sherpa and Ibotta.
If you need a lot of candy this year, there are also deals to be had online. On Amazon, for example, you can get 180 pieces of candy (including Skittles, Starburst, and Lifesavers) for $16. And at Candy Warehouse, you can get a 330-piece bag of Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers for $33.
3. Buy candy that’s not branded for Halloween
Stores generally highlight their holiday offerings front and center, but you may find better deals on the goods in the regular candy aisle. The Reese’s may not be shaped like bats, but you might just save some money. On Amazon, you can get 50 individually-wrapped regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for approximately $17; two bags of the ones shaped like bats, or 34 candies, will cost you $19.
4. Skip the most popular candy
According to Candystore.com, the most popular Halloween candies are Hershey’s Bars, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Butterfingers, Nerds, M&Ms, Kit-Kats, Twix, Snickers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. If you’re trying to save money, cross these items off your list. Unless you stumble across a sale, you’ll find much better deals on more old-school varieties like Tootsie Rolls and Smarties.
A bag of 50 individually-wrapped peanut butter cups cost about $17 on Amazon; by contrast, a bag of 200 Tootsie roll pops cost just over $12. If you go with the latter, you may not be the most popular house on the block, but you’ll certainly save money.
5. Give out non-candy treats
Though Snopes argues that instances of Halloween candy tampering are few and far in between, the FDA still cautions against accepting any homemade treats. To be safe, it’s probably best to stick to prepackaged treats, lest your hard work in the kitchen ends up in wastebaskets all over the neighborhood. Check for deals on items like cereal bars, mini bags of pretzels or cookies, and fruit snacks. If time allows, you can also scour sites like Oriental Trading Company for temporary tattoos, pencils, and other inedible treats.