Boom in first quarter online toy sales in China, reports NPD Group

Published on: 9th June 2021

January sales posted the highest growth for the quarter thanks to toy purchases around the Chinese New Year holiday.

Toy industry eCommerce sales in China increased by 16% to $1.2b in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time period last year, according to The NPD Group. January posted the highest growth rate (34%) for the quarter, with sales driven primarily by purchases made for the Chinese New Year celebration in February.

All toy supercategories posted growth in Q1, led by infant/toddler/pre-school toys, the largest of all 11 supercategories, which increased 3%. Other top-performing supercategories included building sets, outdoor & sports toys, action figures & accessories, and explorative & other toys. With sales reaching $192m, outdoor & sports toys posted the highest gains in terms of value sales, an 18% increase over Q1 2020.

Sales in China’s toy market were dominated by Chinese manufacturers, with only four out of the top 10 manufacturers being global.

“China is the world’s second largest toy market and the world’s largest toy production base,” said Frédérique Tutt, Global Toys industry analyst at The NPD Group. “It’s a country that is primed for savvy international brands seeking opportunities in new markets. Even if the rate of growth slowed in 2020 due to the global pandemic, China over-performed other countries in the region and is already bouncing back. With the latest relaxation of the two-child policy and an ever-increasing middle-class population, we expect the Chinese toy market’s healthy growth to continue.”

Sales of licensed toys increased 45%, while sales of non-licensed toys grew by 13%. The top-gaining toy licences in Q1 were Ultraman, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Disney Frozen.

According to NPD’s 2021 Chinese New Year Gift Study, toys & games were the holiday’s most requested gift categories for Chinese children. When making gift wish lists, 46% of children requested toys that featured their favourite cartoons, television programmes and movies. Social media had a significant impact on children’s wish lists as well, with 45% of children asking for toys they saw on short video platforms like TikTok and WeChat.

Chinese consumers spent an average of $91 on Chinese New Year gifts in 2021, a 39% increase when compared to Q1 2020. Online shoppers spent an average of $12 more than consumers who purchased toys at brick and mortar stores.



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