US toy sales reach $22 billion

Sales decline just two per cent despite recalls and tough economic conditions.
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The US toy industry posted sales of $22.1 billion for 2007, a slight dip on 2006 efforts, according to the NPD Group.

Strong performances came from sales of Action Figures and Accessories, which rose by eight per cent while sales from the Vehicles category increased by six per cent.

Meanwhile, Infant/Preschool, Outdoor and Sports Toys and Dolls all experienced significant losses of five per cent, five per cent and eight per cent respectively.

Top properties for 2007 included Barbie, Bratz, Cars, Crayola, and Dora the Explorer while properties such as Air Hogs, Hannah Montana, Spider-Man, Transformers, and Webkinz experienced significant growth.

Licensed toys represented almost 30 per cent of total industry sales. The best selling brands were Cars: The Movie, Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer, Spider-Man, and Star Wars.

Online sales increased by nine per cent, bring its share of sales to seven per cent, while the Discount channel came in at 55 per cent market share.

The increasing amount of sales of connected web play items has become an emerging trend, according to NPD.

Anita Frazier, industry analyst for the group said: "Connected Web play toys, which marry a physical toy with ongoing digital play opportunities via the Internet, is a relatively new phenomenon that we've seen emerge within the toy industry. Thanks in large part to the popular Webkinz brand, this type of play is expanding into new categories and across many properties."

"Despite economic concerns, last year's results speak to the resiliency of both the toy industry and parents' desire to delight children with new, innovative and fun toys to play with," Frazier said. "I'm encouraged by the innovation within the toy industry and am eager to see the new product offerings at this year's Toy Fair."

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