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May 5, 2020
Families across the globe are turning to toys to stay occupied and connected during school closures and stay-at-home orders put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a first-quarter report from The NPD Group, toy sales are up by four percent for the quarter across 13 global markets. Australia saw the highest percentage growth, with an 11 percent uptick. Germany and the U.S. also saw increases with an eight percent upturn each.
In terms of subcategories, games and puzzles saw the most significant swing in demand. The category earned the highest percentage increase for the first quarter with a +44 percent change. NPD also reported that the outdoor and sports toys, arts and crafts, building sets and vehicle categories saw record growth for the period. Collectively, the rise in sales is attributed to the number of families coping with stay-at-home orders and adjusting to life as schools across the world shutter.
"The earlier date for Easter in 2020 had a small impact on the results, but the majority of the sales gains were the result of the stay at home orders across the globe," says Frédérique Tutt, global toy industry analyst, The NPD Group. "The nature of the local retail environment was also a factor. In many countries, non-essential stores were ordered to shut down, which resulted in sales shifting online to the benefit of some retailers able to provide a delivery service or curbside pick-up at the store location."
While sales growth was applicable across the board, the increase in sales figures also provided a boost for significant players in the toy space such as Hasbro. The company behind games such as Monopoly, Play-Doh and Magic: The Gathering announced considerable gains in the first quarter with revenues for the gaming category hitting 40 percent. Hasbro attributed the profits to a substantial existing portfolio of board game brands as well as new initiatives such as the Bring Home the Fun campaign. Bring Home the Fun is aimed at providing parents and caregivers resources to help keep kids occupied and engaged during extended times indoors.
For Hasbro and many other consumer product firms, the challenge of getting items to customers during the pandemic caused unique problems despite increased demand. As stores across the globe shuttered, Hasbro focused its efforts on ecommerce as well as drugstore and grocery channels. For its efforts, the toymaker reported double-digit revenues for the quarter in ecommerce and growth from mass/hypermarket retailers such as the drug and grocery store verticals.
"During the quarter, families and friends connected through Hasbro's robust portfolio of face-to-face games, created with PLAY-DOH and engaged in content and imaginative play with our brands and entertainment properties," says Brian Goldner, chairman and chief executive officer, Hasbro. "Our teams worked tirelessly to ensure product could get to consumers while managing the health and safety of our employees and partners globally who are navigating a global supply chain and retail landscape impacted by COVID-19."
Hasbro's shift into online retail has been seen across the entertainment landscape as well. According to a recent study by Rakuten Intelligence that was covered by CNBC, ecommerce spending in the U.S. is up more than 30 percent from the beginning of March through mid-April compared with the same period last year. While early online sales pointed to consumers stockpiling essentials, the Rakuten Intelligence report highlights how spending behavior has shifted into entertainment categories as the stay-at-home order has continued to run its course. The study found that verticals such as toys and games and books saw a three-figure increase over the reviewed period.
Such an increase may continue to stay consistent, even as regions begin to reopen slowly. Over the next few months, states across the U.S. are rolling out reopening measures to varying degrees. Some are providing more accelerated plans than others, but all local governments are looking to keep some social distancing measures in place. These measures include keeping in-store capacity lower than average, asking shoppers to wear masks as well as gloves and requiring increased cleaning capacity for shop floors.
Enhanced measures, along with the growing popularity of ecommerce pre-pandemic point to a potential near-term future where shopping doesn't change drastically as shops reopen. People and retailers may look to adapt to a new normal as the scope of social distancing measures expand but doesn't completely go back to normal.
While the summer period will still not be what it was one year prior, the easing of stay-at-home orders will be providing an initial reintroduction for many retailers and shoppers. The period may be a time of adjustment. However, trends show that consumers see ecommerce as a viable option if needed and online platforms should continue to play an essential role in how entertainment brands reach their fanbase.
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