The six per cent growth was driven by an increase in the average price, which reached £6.17 in May 2011.
May was a mixed month for toys, without the benefit that the football World Cup had on the market in 2010, both value and volume were down on last year. However, there were still seven super categories in growth and several properties continued to increase sales.
The fastest growing category remains building sets, which is now bigger than either action figures or vehicles, and is the first stop for many when purchasing boys toys. Both Lego and Mega Brands are showing strong growth, with almost all construction properties in growth. The launch of Character Options into the category with Character Building Doctor Who and HM Armed Forces ranges has also added to sales in May.
Infant and pre-school also grew in May, up nine per cent, and is the second largest area of the toy market YTD (behind outdoor and sports toys). Electronic learning is driving this area, with VTech Baby the largest property in infant electronic learning and growing. Within pre-school electronic learning, Leapster and Mobigo are both driving the category, up 29 per cent in May.
YTD May, Toy Story remains the top property across total toys, but the evergreen licence Star Wars has seen strong growth so far this year, especially within action figures where the role play lightsabers have proved popular.
Other properties showing strong growth so far this year are Nerf – now ranked sixth across total toys, with the sunshine early in the year helping drive sales – and Hello Kitty, now eighth across toys. Hello Kitty was the top licence across Europe in 2010 and the variety and depth of range in the UK has helped drive sales in the first five months of 2011.
“There has been some fantastic growth for both boys and girls properties so far in 2011,” said Jez Fraser-Hook, director of NPD Group’s UK toy business. “With both Nerf and Hello Kitty leaping up the ranks, in addition to the new properties launched over the last 12 months such as Beyblades, Zoobles and, of course, Moshi Monsters, there is a wide selection of choice and price ranges available to consumers when purchasing toys this year