US toy sales slip one per cent

According to NPD, US retail sales of toys were $21.47 billion in 2009 compared to $21.65 billion in 2008.
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Q4 2009 sales reveal that, while revenues were flat due to heavy promotional activity at retail, unit sales rose by four per cent year-on-year.

Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group said: "2009 was a remarkably uneventful year for the toy industry, but in a good way.

"In a time of continued economic turmoil, toy industry revenues were very stable, and the uptick in unit sales in the four quarter is a very positive sign for the industry heading into 2010.”

Building sets and arts & crafts experienced the biggest increases, at 23 per cent and seven per cent, respectively. Action figures and games & puzzles saw increases of four per cent and one per cent.

Youth electronics and plush experienced the largest declines, at 17 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.

“The increase in Building Sets and Arts & Crafts speaks to the entertainment value these categories deliver," continued Frazier. "Both can deliver hours of open-ended play, and Arts & Crafts in particular does so at very attractive price points.”

Unit share for toys under $5 decreased both for the full year and in the fourth quarter. In 2009, while overall unit sales were down 0.5 per cent, the only price range that lost share were toys under $5 and people were buying more toys priced in the mid-range (between $5 and $10).

All channels experienced flat to minimal gains in share of dollar sales, with the most significant changes experienced by toy stores, which saw a decline of one per cent, mostly due to KB Toy stores closing. Meanwhile, Mass Merchant/Discount channels experienced an increase of one per cent.

While sales for children ages eight and under still represent the main portion of toy sales at 69 percent, the only age group to gain in share and value was for the nine to 12 age group.

Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales included Bakugan, Barbie, Crayola, Star Wars, and Transformers. Licensed toys represented 25 per cent of total sales in 2009, compared to 2008's 27 percent.

Based on dollar sales, Cars: The Movie, Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer, Star Wars, and Thomas & Friends topped the list of 2009's best-selling licensed properties (in alphabetical order).

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