If you’ve been in any grocery stores, pharmacies, toy stores, or supermarkets recently, you’ve seen Halloween in all its glory. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $9 billion on Halloween fun. How does the spike in consumption of candy and costumes affect prices for consumers and producers? As it turns out, the consumer price index appears to be more volatile than the producer price index.
The graph shows the consumer price index (CPI) in purple and the producer price indexes (PPI) in orange and black for candy and costumes. (Sadly, CPI for costumes isn’t available.) The PPIs don’t vary much, but the CPI does. After all, the prices of sugar, cloth, and other inputs exhibit less holiday-related seasonal variation than the prices producers can charge around those holidays. The PPI for costumes and vestments varies the least, which isn’t surprising: Fewer seasonal factors such as weather or harvest schedules impact the prices of inputs for costume production. The PPI for candy shows slightly more variation, yet displays less of a seasonal pattern than the CPI for candy, which tends to spike each March and September.
Candy prices are expected to rise in the spring and fall, as demand rises to fill Easter baskets and trick-or-treat bags. But savvy shoppers who consult FRED can see that the worst of the Halloween price hikes seem to end by October. It’s the early candy shoppers who often take the hit every September when prices are at their scariest.
How this graph was created: Search for “CPI Candy” and select the monthly, not seasonally adjusted series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, change the units to “Index,” selecting the date 2011-12-01 (to align with the next series). Then click “Add Line” and search for “PPI Chocolate” and select the relevant series. Click “Add Line” again and search for “PPI Vestments and Costumes” and select the relevant series. Change the start date to 2011-12-01.
Suggested by Maria Hyrc and Christian Zimmermann.