NPD says UK toy market shows resilience despite challenging year

Published on: 26th January 2022

While the market is down -3% on 2020 it’s up +2% on 2019, and London Toy Fair is playing a crucial role in kickstarting 2022 for the toy industry. 

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), the organiser of Toy Fair, and The NPD Group have announced that UK toy sales declined by -3% in 2021 to £3.2b. In what has been a turbulent year for the industry, the UK toy market has shown remarkable resilience in comparison to pre-pandemic figures, they say, and although there was a fall in 2021, the market is up +2% overall on 2019.

Several toy categories grew last year including Plush, up +9%, and Vehicles, up +7% YoY. Top properties for toys in 2021 included classics like Barbie, Star Wars and Paw Patrol as well as fast-growing properties such as Pokémon, Bluey and Minecraft. The last week of trading prior to Christmas also registered +35% growth YoY, with the whole month of December up +2%.

“The toy industry faced huge challenges in 2021 including, but not limited to, supply chain concerns and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” commented Roland Earl, director general at the BTHA. “Despite these hurdles, the UK toy market has held relatively firm compared to pre-pandemic figures and there are reasons to be optimistic about the year ahead, with some categories showing growth and a strong line up of new releases for 2022.”

Melissa Symonds, executive director, UK Toys, The NPD Group, added: “Last year the UK toy market managed to retain 35% of the value it gained in 2020, with seven out of eleven categories up compared to 2019 figures. Even more impressive is that licensed toys grew for the third consecutive year, reaching 28% of the market – the highest ever share. With a raft of toyetic film releases due this year, as well as the continued strong performance of streaming, YouTube, and video game licences, 2022 looks set to be a good year for toys.”

Toy Fair, the UK’s largest dedicated toy, game and hobby exhibition, is home to more than 260 exhibiting companies, thousands of new toy launches, and is one of very few trade exhibitions taking place in January in the UK in any sector.

“After cancelling Toy Fair in 2021 due to the pandemic, it is great that we are able to facilitate businesses coming together at Toy Fair this year,” added Roland at the start of Toy Fair. “For small and medium-sized businesses, events like Toy Fair are essential to do business as it creates an opportunity for companies to network and reach new customers which can’t be replicated online. We look forward to seeing these meetings resume over the next three days.”

To ensure the health and safety of attendees, the government’s guidelines for indoor events are being strictly enforced. The Toy Fair organiser has taken every precaution for a safe and comfortable visit – including the mandatory wearing of face coverings, demonstration by all participants of their Covid-19 status before entry, multiple hand sanitising stations and enhanced cleaning schedule throughout the show.

Roland added: “Olympia London is a large, well-spaced and well-ventilated venue. It is fantastic to be welcoming our participants to attend an event they’ve so dearly missed.”

Toy Fair is currently taking place at Olympia London; the last day of the 3-day show is tomorrow, 27th January.


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