For the first time since the Woolworths closure, the market is showing growth driven by an increase in average price, now £5.67 versus £5.20 a year ago.
Despite the challenging economic conditions in 2009, the high price points (£20+) continued to grow and this trend has carried over into January with £20-plus price up eight per cent on last year.
“Consumers don’t see price as a major barrier to purchase, but there has to be a strong element of play value involved for high valued items to succeed,” commented Jez Fraser-Hook, director of The NPD Group’s Toy Business in the UK.
Building sets continued growing and was the fastest growing super category in January, up 90 per cent on last year.
This was driven by the continued success of Lego with a wide variety of ranges including the Lego Star Wars and Lego City ranges remaining popular. The launch of new Lego Atlantis and Lego Toy Story also proved popular this month with Woody and Buzz Rescue number three in the top selling building set items for the month.
The largest category, infant and pre-school, also grew in January, up 12 per cent in value with growth driven through a number of properties including Peppa Pig, Vtech Baby and Playmobil.
In The Night Garden made a strong start to the year and was the number two pre-school licence across total toys, behind Thomas and Friends. However, the top selling item remains the Vtech First Steps Babywalker, with the Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies Lights a close second.
January was a strong performing month for dolls, with the play-set themed dolls category up 37 per cent. The top three items show the strength of this category with the Littlest Pet Shop Collectables Assortment the top item, Sylvanian Families Car and Caravan number two and In My Pocket Ocean Mum and Baby Assortment number three. In fashion dolls, Barbie continues to rule and is the top property, up 30 per cent versus January 2009.
“There’s a strong feeling of optimism for the toy market going into 2010 and certainly initial indications are that it’s translating into sales. Hopefully, this will continue for the rest of year,” continued Fraser-Hook.