“With Easter at the start of April, the traditional uplift in sales for this holiday straddled two months this year, with the pre-Easter toy sales falling in March and the Easter school holiday toy sales in April,” says Jez Fraser-Hook, director of NPD Group’s toy business, UK.
Despite this, the year-to-date value is still positive, up eight per cent verses the same period last year, while volume is relatively static at minus one per cent.
Infant and pre-school is still the largest supercategory by value, growing six per cent year-to-date April 2010 and accounting just under £1 in every £5 spent on toys so far this year. The Bright Starts range from Kids II has seen tremendous growth in infant toys and is now the number two property behind Vtech Baby.
Licences are starting to make a come back in pre-school toys with the re-launch of both Postman Pat and Fireman Sam toy ranges driving sales. This combined with the continuing growth of Timmy Time suggests resurgence in popularity for traditional animation processes and related items.
The dry weather in April also helped outdoor and sports toys, which grew 29 per cent for the month verses 2009. There are now four outdoor toys in the top ten sellers for the month: Smart Trike Plus Girls at number four, Smart Trike Plus Primary Colour at seven, Little Tikes Cozy Coupe at nine and the Cosmic Light Scooter assortment at number ten. Little Tikes has also leapt up the property ranking to number three across the total toy market for April with Smart Trike now at number seven.
Another strong performer is Nerf, which is now the number three property for outdoor and continuing to grow. Outdoor and sports has always been weather dependent but this is an exceptionally strong start to the season.
Licences have always been important to the toy market and currently account for 27 per cent of total toy sales. Some licences are true evergreens like Thomas and Friends and Star Wars while others drive uplift for a limited time, usually around a major film release.
“The big summer blockbuster season is seen as an opportunity to drive toy sales with 2010 having a wide range of film licences – everything from Toy Story to Twilight to the new A-Team, has a toy range available,” comments Fraser-Hook, “It should a very exciting summer for the toy industry.”