NPD: Stellar Performance for U.S. Toy Industry, Nearly 7% Growth in 2015

Content-Related Toy Sales Driven by Star Wars Among Top Reasons for Industry Growth

The following press release was issued by The NPD Group on Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

January 20, 2016 |
U.S. toy sales grew by 6.7 percent in 2015*, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group, generating $19.4 billion and marking one of the strongest performances the industry has seen in a number of years.

“The toy industry had an incredible year and, as is typically the case, there isn’t one reason; there were a number of factors coming together to grow the industry nearly 7 percent in 2015,” said Juli Lennett, U.S. toys industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Top Reasons For Growth

Nine of the 11 super-categories posted gains in 2015. Games/Puzzles and Vehicles grew the fastest at 10.8 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, followed by Building Sets and Outdoor & Sports Toys. Outdoor & Sports Toys and Dolls had the largest dollar gains followed by Building Sets and Infant/Toddler/Preschool Toys. Star Wars was the number-one absolute dollar growth contributor to three of the super-categories: Action Figures, Vehicles, and All Other Toys.

Content was a key driver behind the growth of the toy industry in 2015. Whether it be a movie (Star Wars, Jurassic World, Minions, and Avengers), television show (Paw Patrol), app (Minecraft), or a strong YouTube following (Shopkins), all of these properties with ties to content were top contributors to the growth.  “Movies” in total outperformed the market in 2015, growing by 9.4 percent. With the early release of Star Wars toys on Force Friday, Star Wars managed to become the number-one property for the year, with over $700 million in sales. It also brought in more sales and contributed more growth than Jurassic World, Minions, and Avengers combined.

With Christmas falling on a Friday in 2015, consumers had one extra day to shop in the week compared to last year. As a result, the week of Christmas (12/20-12/26) grew 25 percent in 2015, and its growth was larger than all the other weeks in Q4 combined. The week of Christmas also represents 8 percent of all toy sales for the year, and is the second most important week of the year for the toy industry—the week before Christmas being number-one at 8.5 percent, illustrating the importance for retailers to stay well-stocked up until Christmas Eve.   

NPD is also announcing the top ten selling toys for annual 2015, and the number-one selling toy is the Shopkins 12 Pack Assortment from Moose Toys. “What was especially interesting to see this year among the top ten selling items was the wide diversity of toys from simple to complex,” said Lennett. “In addition, among the top toys were evergreen properties like Hot Wheels, Barbie, Star Wars, and Ninja Turtles as well as relatively new properties like Shopkins, Paw Patrol, and Minecraft. Price points were also wide ranging, from under $1 to over $150.”

*Source: The NPD Group Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, January-December 2015

**These lists capture all widely distributed SKUs sold in the U.S. by retailers (including e-tailers). The lists do not include items that are exclusive to specific retailers.

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