The US toy market has seen sales grow seven per cent to $7.9 billion for the first half of 2018, reports NPD, fuelling growth despite the loss of Toys R Us earlier this year.
LOL Surprise, Total Marvel, Fingerlings, Hatchimals and Soft N Slo Squishes have been highlighted among the key drivers for the seven per cent increase, as well as parent and consumer empathy in the face of the demise of the toy retail giant.
“It is likely that the Toys R Us news has kept toys top of mind for parents and grandparents when shopping for kids in general, benefitting both consumers and the industry,” said Julie Lennet, senior vice president and industry adviser, toys, the NPD Group.
“I am also convinced that the strong toy industry growth so far this year has been at least partially supported by the empathy that people felt towards losing a store like Toys R Us. I think it brought about an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys overall.”
Youth electronics has been tipped as the fastest growing super category in the market, up 43 per cent, driven by Fingerlings, Star Wars and Tamagotchi. Growth in this sector is expected to continue over the next year and a half, stemming from robotic and interactive playmates.
Meanwhile, sales in dolls grow by 17 per cent, led by LOL Surprise, Hatchimals and Barbie. The three properties alone captured over two-thirds of the super category’s growth. Fashion dolls, role play and large dolls are expected to perform strongly starting in the second half of next year due to the expected positive effects of next year’s big movie Frozen 2.
Action figures and accessories also grew by 16 per cent, lifted by Marvel’s Black Panther, Avengers Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Dinosaur and pony or unicorn themed toys grew by 77 per cent year to date through June and NPD expects these themes to be trending as we head in to the Christmas shopping period.
“From my point of view, the toy retail space has been bustling with activity and this will continue through the end of 2018,” added Lennet. “Existing toy retailers have announced they will be dedicating more space and will carry more toys this holiday season both in store and online.
“We’re also seeing new store formats emerge that are more experiential and we will have new toy retailers entering the space. The industry has shown to be proactive in compensating for the dollars Toys R Us has left on the table and more.”