U.S. Toy Market Enjoys A Strong Start To 2021
NPD just reported a strong performance year to date for the toy market in the USA through to April. Most probably the first four months of the year look good as the corresponding period last year aligned with the first pandemic lockdown in the USA, but nevertheless, it was lockdown and frustrated parents and bored kids which were said to have driven sales so high in the middle sections of 2021.
NPD reports the market as being 27% up year on year in $USD terms, with both units sold and average selling price increasing during the reported period. What is also notable is that nearly every super category has grown considerably. One of the immediate impacts of the pandemic hitting was the pulling of movie releases across the board, a year later though we have the ongoing hybrid model of direct to home viewing alongside cinema reopening’s (with restricted capacity), and as such those categories which are typically heavily influenced by the movie release slate have done better year to date than they did last year when ready to go toys were shelved in some instances to await eventual release dates.
Needless to say, it will be hard to keep the year-on-year comparables strong across the entirety of 2021, and across all categories, especially after parentally approved product categories had such a marvellous 2020, but nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons out there to be cheerful if you choose to take a positive view!
To read NPD’s press release in full, just click this link:
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U.S. Toy Industry Grows Significantly In 2020: Implications And Analysis
*The NPD Group has just announced that the toy market in the U.S.A. grew by 16% in 2020, that’s a whopping $3.5billion market size increase year on year. Needless to say, online sales were up significantly as would be expected during the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns.
One other remarkably interesting point mentioned in NPD’s report is the categories which were up – namely sports/outdoor toys, games/puzzles & building sets experienced significant growth year on year. The reasons for this are seemingly obvious – sports/outdoor toys most probably grew due to children being at home more but still needing active play/to burn off abundant energy. For building sets and construction toys, these are typically parent driven or at least parent approved purchases, and so parents used these types of play products to try to occupy homebound children.
The challenge for companies in these winning categories appears to be delivering growth in 2021 when 2020 was up by so much. There are two perspectives on this though: firstly, yes it will be hard to anniversary such uplift because so much of it was driven by people’s physical circumstances i.e. being stuck at home for long periods of time. With vaccines rolling out in the U.S. and across the world, the prospects for lifting of restrictions and even (hopefully) the end of the pandemic it may be difficult to beat 2020’s stellar results in 2021. Prudence would suggest that companies benchmark 2019 instead to avoid significant disappointment and overstocks. But the other perspective is about habitual play patterns. People are normally creatures of habit, and the difference with many times in the past when sales were up in a particular category is that 2020 most probably increased actual usage of toy & game products more than in a typical year. Therefore, because gameplaying & construction play are habitual play patterns, the chances are good that there will be some uplift both in 2021 and beyond versus 2019. In short, these parent approved leisure activities may get a strong mid term boost from the COVID 19 pandemic. Every cloud has a silver lining, even a cloud as dark as coronavirus.
One other point to be drawn from these fantastic results for the overall toy business in 2020 is this: we know our business is resilient due to the underlying consumer drivers, which do not tend to disappear in tough times. But the pandemic has stressed societies, economies and families more than anything else since World War 2, and yet again the toy business in the U.S.A. (and in other markets) has proven to be robust, resilient and lest we forget, critical to the positive development, play and occupation of children.
We run a Consultancy business for toy & game companies. We work with major toy & game companies through to start ups and one person bands. For more information on how we help toy & game companies grow their distribution around the world: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services