NPD: Price increases kick-start 2011 growth

The first month of 2011 showed mixed performance for the toy market. NPD analyses the sales figures.
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Traditionally January is a slow month for toy sales with just four per cent of total value sold. However, the first month of 2011 showed mixed performance for the toy market, with the first two weeks seeing strong growth versus 2010 and weeks three and four showing sales declining slightly (down one per cent in value each week).

Overall, January finished up eight per cent in value, driven more by price increase than volume, which only grew by two per cent. The price increase was helped by the VAT rise to 20 per cent, but also continues the trend seen in 2010 for higher priced items.

Both plush and building sets continued to grow in January following stellar 2010 performances across both categories.

In building sets, the third series of Lego’s Minifigures and the launch of Lego Ninjago helped generate additional sales, while ZhuZhu Pets remains a key driver of the special feature plush growth.

Outdoor and sports toys also had a good January with sales up 23 per cent on last year. Nerf, the biggest property within the super category, had a strong start to the year and reached tenth biggest property across the total toys market.

Throughout 2010, licensed sales grew much slower than the non-licensed market, which lead to licences losing share. However, for January this trend reversed with licences growing by ten per cent – ahead of the total market growth. Toy Story remained the top licence for January, but there was also strong growth from Hello Kitty & Friends, Beyblades, Fireman Sam and Doctor Who which all helped drive the market performance.

“While January may not be strong in absolute sales, it is interesting to see which new products and licences capture the market early in the year and what trends start to emerge post-Christmas,” said Jez Fraser-Hook, director of NPD Group’s toy business in the UK.

“February will no doubt give a better indication of the products to watch through the first half of 2011, before the blockbuster films of the summer and related toy products hit the market.”

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