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Playtime Goes Digital

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Learn how toy companies leverage technology across the supply chain and in products to turn playtime on its head.

Despite an economic downturn and a global pandemic, the toy industry saw a boost in sales as families accommodated kids spending more time at home. The NPD Group reported that total retail sales of toys grew 16 percent at the end of 2020, year-over-year, in the U.S. Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, U.S. toys, The NPD Group, reports that the uptick speaks to the need to keep kids entertained while stuck at home.

"2020 was an unprecedented year for the U.S. toy industry," says Lennett. "The growth we've seen speaks to the fact that parents are willing to put their children's happiness above all else. The reality underpins the industry's resiliency that families look to toys in times of hardship to help keep their children engaged, active and delighted. Toys are a big part of the happiness equation."

The uptick in the toy industry also highlights a more technically savvy future. Toys – much like every other industry – have leveraged technology increasingly over the past decade. From the toys-to-life phase of the smart toys arena that is quickly building momentum, toys become a function of online culture just as so many other facets of the world are today. The benefits of technology for the space are clear: smarter toys can unlock kids' creativity and leverage data to help build valuable skills. On the other hand, concerns about privacy and safety may be barriers to entry for some families. That's not even to mention the questions around excessive screen time at an early age.

To read the rest of our cover story, check out our March 2021 issue here!

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