“The 2 percent gain was lower than the 4 percent increase experienced over the same period in 2017, but this year’s slow growth shouldn’t be dismissed,” says Juli Lennett, senior vice president and industry advisor, toys, The NPD Group. “With all the change the toy industry has endured over the past year, growth is a welcome surprise and speaks to the tenacity of the toy industry.”
Youth Electronics grew the fastest with 24 percent gains, while five other groups, of the 11 supercategories noted by the NPD, showed increases.
Dolls saw the most significant increase at $168 million, 12 percent more than the previous year, followed by Action Figures & Accessories, Youth Electronics, Arts & Crafts, Vehicles and Infant/Toddler/Preschool Toys.
Outdoor & Sports Toys declined 1 percent to $2.6 billion, yet was the largest supercategory regarding dollar sales. Plush, Games/Puzzles, Building Sets and All Other Toys posted flat to modest declines.
Top performing IP included Marvel Universe, L.O.L. Surprise!, Nerf, Barbie and Star Wars. L.O.L. Surprise! saw the most dollar growth, followed by Jurassic World and Marvel Universe, whose toy sales were supercharged by the release of both Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Fingerlings and Funko Pop! finished out the top 5.
The NPD forecasts that consumers will gravitate toward L.O.L. Surprise House with 85 Surprises, the latest Barbie Dreamhouse, Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck Playset, LEGO City Advent Calendar and Promises Interactive Plush Pets this holiday season.
“While existing toy retailers have been proactive in dedicating more shelf space and increasing the number of toys they carry both online and in stores, having the right inventory at the end will be equally important,” says Lennett. “Ensuring they have a diverse selection of toys, especially toys with high-velocity sales in September, is a great way for retailers to maximize sales through the end of the year.”