NPD: Success for toys amid last year's economic crisis

A look back over 2009 shows a market of two halves...
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“There is no doubt that the closure of Woolworths at the beginning of 2009 impacted the market, hitting the manufacturers more than the retailers,” commented Jez Fraser- Hook, director of The NPD Group’s Toy Business in the UK.

“Most retailers increased their toy business while there were differing stories across the manufacturers. It’s also been hard to tell, throughout the year, how much the general economic conditions impacted the toy market. Even without the Woolworths closure there’s a possibility the toy market would have been down in the year.”

However, despite this there have been some success stories in 2009 with Building Sets continuing to grow year-on-year, up nine per cent in 2009 verses 2008. A large part of this growth is due to Lego continuing to drive existing ranges such as Lego City and Lego Star Wars, while successfully introducing new ranges such as Lego Power Miners. In addition, the last few weeks of the year saw an increase in Mega Blok Maxi Sales.

Furthermore, 2009 saw the continued growth of all other toys up ten per cent, which has been driven by Miscellaneous, Musical, Power Appliance and Food Mixtures Toys. This growth is driven by the continued playground crazes GoGo Crazy Bones and Battle Strikers for boys, while Character’s Let’s Cook dominates girls spend.

The Plush category also ended the year in positive growth (up three per cent) with pre-school licences such as Timmy Time and Waybuloo helping to kick start sales in the second half of the year and the success of GoGo Pets in the final quarter driving sales.

Overall, December was the strongest month of the year, not just in terms of actual sales, which accounted for over a quarter of the total toy sales in 2009, but the like- for-like performance was the strongest all year. For the second Christmas in a row, Vtech’s Kidizoom camera was the number one item for December and has made the number one top selling item for the year.

While a new entry in the top ten items for December was The Logo Game at number eight and was the best selling toy across the market in the week before Christmas (Week 52: 20th – 26th December 2009). Games had a revival in December with Hasbro’s Bop It and Monopoly both in the top sellers list as well.

Fraser-Hook added: “The economic conditions look to be improving and Woolworths is last year’s story, so with the positive energy we continue to see within our clients, and an upward trend of consumer confidence, hopefully we will see positive trends in 2010.”

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