NPD reports 16% growth in US toy sales in 2020

Published on: 26th January 2021

Much of toy sales growth directly correlated to the pandemic and resulting changes in consumer behaviour, as toys heralded part of happiness equation.

first half toy salesUS toy sales generated $25.1b in 2020, an increase of 16% over 2019, according to the NPD Group. This was an increase of 16% or $3.5b. Unit sales for the year were flat while the average selling price increased by 16%.

Much of the growth in 2020 was directly correlated to the Covid-19 pandemic and the changing consumer behaviour associated with widespread lockdowns and school closures, the disposable income diverted from other types of entertainment to toys, as well as the onset of federal stimulus cheques. Toy sales up until mid-March 2020 were flat compared to 2019, and then widespread lockdown measures quickly led to an abrupt increase in sales. This was further amplified by the distribution of stimulus cheques beginning in April, resulting in the strongest month of growth for the year in May (up +38%). Toy industry growth peaked again in October with an increase of 33%, when the holiday season kicked off with Amazon Prime Day along with other retailer deals the same week.

“2020 was an unprecedented year for the US toy industry. The growth we’ve seen in the toy industry speaks to the fact that parents are willing to put their children’s happiness above all else,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, US Toys, The NPD Group. “The industry’s resiliency is very much underpinned by the reality that, in times of hardship, families look to toys to help keep their children engaged, active, and delighted. Put simply, toys are a big part of the happiness equation.”

2020 saw a surge in online shopping, following retail closures and consumer hesitancy towards shopping in stores. In the first three quarters of 2020, the online channel gained 10 share points from its 23% share in 2019, leading to 75% growth in overall online toy sales year on year. As well as pure play online retailers performing well, brick and mortar retailers with buy online, in-store pickup or kerbside options, also outperformed.

The strongest categories were sports toys, which includes skates, skateboards and scooters (+31%), fashion dolls and accessories (+56%), building sets (+26%), games (+29%), and summer seasonal toys (+24%). The top properties included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Star Wars, Pokémon and Marvel Universe. The top five properties combined accounted for 13% of all toy sales on the year.

While units sold declined in seven of the 11 supercategories monitored, the average selling price increased in every supercategory. The increase in average price was a key driver of the growth in dollar sales and was driven by a shift in product mix to higher-priced categories.


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