Economy's sweet spot: Candy sales are up

Despite the spooky state of the economy, shoppers are still shelling out money for Halloween candy.This year, candy sales are expected to top $2.26 billion, according to the National Confectioners Association. That's up from $2.20 billion last year.

The reason is simple: People view Halloween as an affordable splurge and something that promotes time with family.

Janis Newcomb said that most years, about 100 trick-or-treaters come to her Cary home. This year, she spent about $30 on a mix of SweeTarts, Blow Pops and Hershey's chocolate bars.

"Going with the non-chocolate is a way to save a little more," she said. "But I would have done that anyway because that's what I like to eat."

Newcomb said that despite the tightening economy, she didn't consider scaling back.

With two daughters, ages 1 and 3, she felt making Halloween special was important, especially as this will be the first year her 3-year-old goes trick-or-treating.

"She's not a big candy-eater yet," Newcomb said. "We may just do a few houses with her, but it's important to make it fun."

Candy makers did hedge their bets this year, adding sugar-free, fat-free and portion-controlled Halloween treats to help boost sales. There are 100-calorie packs of Sour Patch Kids, Jelly Belly candies touting their Vitamin C content and sugar-free Peeps.

At the Whole Foods store in Raleigh, one of the hottest sellers has been a package of 70 organic lollipops for $4.99.