A shaky start to 2018 couldn’t knock the US toy industry off its game. Sales slid just 2 per cent for the year despite fears the collapse of Toys R Us would leave a colossal hole in the retail landscape.
That 2 per cent loss wiped $400m dollars off the total sales value of toys in the States for 2018, dropping to $21.6bn from $22bn in 2017, according to NPD. It’s the first drop in four years after a period of strong and steady growth and a better performance than many anticipated.
“After the liquidation announcement of Toys R Us last year, there was a great deal of speculation about what would happen to the industry, with some predicting double-digit declines,” says Juli Lennett, VP and Toy industry advisor at The NPD Group.
She views the end of year results as a “solid performance” given the upheaval caused by Toys R Us and broader changes in retail.
“It’s also worth noting that annual 2018 sales are slightly higher than 2016, which experienced mid-single digit growth,” she adds.
Around a third of the super categories NPD tracks – consolidated product categories that aim to give a sweeping overview of certain segments – were up. Chief among them is the Dolls super category, which incorporates MGA’s blockbuster L.O.L Surprise brand, Mattel’s perennial favourite Barbie and Spin Master’s hit Hatchimals brand. Action Figures, Arts and Crafts and Youth Electronics also saw growth, signaling a desire from consumers to split children’s playtime between screens and traditional pursuits.
The top properties of the year were MGA’s L.O.L Surprise!, which won Toy of the Year at London Toy Fair earlier this month, Mattel’s flagship Barbie and Hot Wheels brands, Hasbro’s Nerf and Marvel-licensed play things.
The US figures follow last week’s NPD announcement that UK toy sales dropped 7 per cent in 2018, but retains its position as the biggest market in Europe.