TOY FAIR 2011: Construction sector leads UK toy market resurgence

BTHA chairman reveals strong 2010 figures as industry bounces back from recession.
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The UK toy market is now valued at an estimated £2.83 billion, BTHA chairman Christine Nicholls revealed this morning at Toy Fair.

Sales in 2010 grew by six per cent in value and ten per cent in volume, according to NPD - showing that the industry seems to have recovered from the recession and the effects of the loss of Woolworths.

The two fastest growing categories in 2010 were Building Sets (+45 per cent) and Plush (+39 per cent). Building sets flew off the shelves driven mainly by the success of Lego. Plush was bolstered by Zhu Zhu Pets. The other category which performed well (+13 per cent) was Outdoor /Sports which benefited from the good weather the UK enjoyed in early spring followed by a secondary boost during the World Cup in July.

Girls’ toys also experienced strong growth thanks to innovation and creativity within the sector with doll sales increasing by 11 per cent and Arts and Crafts rising by eight per cent. In the past, older girls tended to leave the toy category but the innovation of such brands as Zhu Zhu Pets, Crayola and many craft kits manufacturers has kept girls interested in traditional toys this year.

It is predicted that 2011 will be a difficult year as consumers worry about government budget cuts, the VAT rise impact and the possibility of losing their jobs. It is hoped that the toy market will show resilience even in these difficult times as often parents would rather cut their own leisure budget than their children’s. To boost market growth, big blockbusters sequels (Cars, Transformers, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh) should keep children interested in toys, as well as innovation from the hundreds of companies within the toy industry and the many new brands coming into the market.

Christine Nicholls, chairman of the BTHA, said: “Creativity, resilience and relevance have all played their part in helping the toy industry to weather the past two years. The economy over the next 12 months will be difficult for many people in the UK and the industry needs to maintain its focus on producing toys with great play value at affordable prices.

"Toys help children to play, and the power of play in a child should never be underestimated. When combined with a child’s imagination, toys come alive, fire their creativity and have the power to inspire us all”.

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