The pre-school market was worth around £260m in 2008 with sales flat year on year, while the average price declined marginally from £9.56 in 2007 to £9.23.
Woolworths’ demise will impact the pre-school category significantly in 2009 as it was the number two retailer with over ten per cent share of the category in 2008 (NPD Consumer Panel). In particular, the loss of Woolworths will impact the pre-school boys markets that were more reliant than girls on the retailer.
So far this year, pre-school sales have continued to grow in the grocers’ channel.
Licences are important to the pre-school market with licensed items on average more expensive than unlicensed. Top licences are Thomas and Friends and In The Night Garden, which ranked number one and number two respectively. However, the fastest growing licences so far in 2009 include Roary the Racing Car with five per cent growth, and Postman Pat, making a resurgence with three per cent growth for the year to date.
Pre-school licences are very competitive with many around for years, as well as new ones introduced. Compared to other European countries, the UK counts a wider variety of pre-school licences, all wanting a piece of the pie. The largest new property in pre-school over the last year was Little Einsteins, with the Little Einsteins Rocket performing well.
For the year to date March 2009, the top seller in total pre-school is Vtech’s V.Smile Learning System followed by LeapFrog’s Leapster showing how important the Pre-school Electronic Learning sector has become. There is only one new item in the top ten for the year to date – Hasbro’s In The Night Garden Upsy Daisy and Bed at ten.
Within the pre-school market, figures and play-sets have seen the strongest growth, with characters such as Peppa Pig and new Playmobil ranges driving sales. In addition, the kitchen and food role play category has also seen a rise and now accounts for over ten per cent of all pre-school sales, driven through own label and Fifi and the Flowertots items.
However, this is balanced out by some traditionally strong growth areas such as electronic learning and vehicles (the largest sub-category) declining. Looking at the total pre-school market, Mattel is the number one manufacturer, but Playmobil has seen some strong growth in the last year with its Recycling Truck being the best selling item so far in 2009.