NPD Point-of-Sales Data Points to Flat Year for the Toy Industry

In fall 2012, market research firm The NPD Group launched a new Retail Tracking Service to monitor sales of toy products from a diverse range of retailers across brick & mortar and e-commerce channels. The service captures point-of-sales data across approximately 80% of the U.S. retail market, representing nearly 38,000 doors, and delivers purchasing information across 99 toy categories.  In The NPD press release issued today (copy shown below), it appears that toy industry sales at mass retail were flat for 2012; the year-to-year comparison was down about 0.5%. The NPD Group’s traditional report containing consumer data tracking analyses will be released next week.

According to data released from the National Retail Federation (NRF), total holiday retail sales across all consumer product categories increased 3% in 2012, down from NRF’s projected forecast of 4.1%.



- Strong Year-End Sales Help U.S. Toy Industry End Close to Even with Last Year -

PORT WASHINGTON, NY, January 15, 2013 – According to global information company, The NPD Group, consumers finally came out of their cocoon and rewarded the U.S. retail Toy industry with a strong December.

Based on data from The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, it appears that many shoppers waited until the last two weeks of December to do their holiday toy shopping. Looking at these two weeks, dollar sales were up 18 percent and unit sales were up 10 percent when compared to the same time period in 2011.  Overall, dollar sales for December topped $5 billion* for the first time in three years, and were up 1.3 percent versus year-ago. This was the second consecutive December with revenue growth for the category, as 2011 dollar sales were up 1.5 percent compared with 2010.

For the year overall, U.S. retail Toy sales totaled $16.5 billion*, a slight decline from the $16.6 billion recorded in 2011.

"Like other categories, Toys took a hit in November, caused by waning consumer confidence, concern about fiscal policy and Superstorm Sandy," said Russ Crupnick, Sr. Vice President, Industry Analysis, The NPD Group. "Events like these prevented Toys from experiencing a better year. The good news is when consumers did break out of their cocoon in late December they flocked to the toys section at their favorite retailers."

The Toy industry categories in the U.S. with the largest revenue gains in 2012 were Building Sets, Arts & Crafts, Dolls and Infant/Preschool, with respective increases of 19.7 percent, 6.9 percent, 5.8 percent and 2.5 percent. Plush, Outdoor & Sports Toys, Vehicles and Games/Puzzles experienced the most significant declines when compared to 2011, at 12.6 percent, 8 percent, 6.2 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively. The remaining categories: Action Figures/Accessories & Role Play, Youth Electronics and All Other Toys were flat.

"Another positive note is that we’re seeing consumers willing to trade up to more expensive toys in many of these segments," said Crupnick. "For example, the average price paid for a Building Set rose 12 percent in 2012, and consumers paid 14 percent more for Arts & Crafts. This suggests that consumers are willing to pay more for toys that they perceive as being beneficial to children’s play or learning experience, or as providing value as a gift."

Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales (in alphabetical order) included Barbie, Disney Princess, Hot Wheels, Monster High and Star Wars.

While The NPD Group noted that several of the top selling properties were based on licenses, overall the licensed toy category grew only 1 percent in 2012. Licenses are typically a key driver of the toy category. Though they account for 30 percent of total industry sales (2012) they typically command higher average retail prices.

The top ten toys in 2012 ranked in dollar order were:

1)       Leapster Explorer Licensed Software Asst – LeapFrog

2)       Beyblade Metal Fusion – Hasbro

3)       LeapPad Explorer System Green – LeapFrog

4)       LeapPad 2 Tablet System Green – LeapFrog

5)       Hot Wheels Express Lane Asst – Mattel

6)       Monster High Doll Asst – Mattel

7)       Easy Bake Ultimate Oven – Hasbro

8)       Razor Scooter Asst – Razor USA

9)       Leappad 2 Tablet Special Hardware Plus Bundle Asst – LeapFrog

10)   Barbie 3-Story Dream Townhouse - Mattel

"The 'toy story' for 2012 was filled with concern about declining birthrates, economic uncertainty and competition from consumer electronics, and those are all real issues for the Toy industry," said Crupnick. "But, in the end, consumers proved that toys are still important and relevant as play options, and that they are willing to pay extra for products that deliver on play value."

* Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, which represents approximately 80 percent of the U.S. retail market for Toys.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions.  By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth.  Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food / foodservice, home, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless.  For more information, visit

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David Riley