NPD: U.S. Toy Industry Sales Up 19 Percent in First Three Quarters of 2020

The following article is based on a press release issued by The NPD Group on October 30, 2020.

October 30, 2020 | The U.S. toy industry grew its dollar sales by 19.1 percent to $13.7 billion in the first three quarters, according to global information company The NPD Group.* Over those eight months, one of the biggest catalysts for growth has been COVID-19’s impact on consumer behaviors and spending habits.

The strongest growth drivers came from the widespread lockdowns and school closures, as well as the onset of federal stimulus checks. Although toy sales were flat from January to March, after most stores and schools closed in the third week of March, sales increased +17% over the next five weeks. The distribution of federal stimulus checks led to an additional 27% increase in total sales over the 15-week period from April 19 to August 1. Amazon Prime Day 2020, which saw 54% YoY growth, also contributed to overall growth.

Year to date, nine of the 11 super categories posted growth with eight of the nine posting double-digit growth. The three that outperformed the total toy industry growth − Outdoor & Sports Toys (+31%), Games & Puzzles (+42%), and Building Sets (+30%) – were also tied largely to families seeking refuge in playtime amid stay-at-home orders. Outdoor & Sports Toys, which represented 36% of all dollar gains, continues to be the largest super category with almost $3.5 billion in sales.

The top 10 properties during the first three quarters of 2020 included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Star Wars, Marvel Universe, Pokémon, Disney Frozen, Nerf, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, and PAW Patrol. Together they posted +29 percent growth over 2019.

“Despite the industry’s strong performance year to date, there are many significant factors that will affect growth into next year and, potentially, beyond,” Juli Lennett, NPD’s toy industry advisor, said in the press release. “Whether its rising household debt and high unemployment, lack of additional stimulus payments, or delays in vaccine development/distribution and the potential for additional lockdowns, there are many potential headwinds that the industry will need to address as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters. While these challenges shouldn’t be overlooked, there is also certainly something to be said for the resiliency of the industry and the emotional connection that consumers have to toys, especially during challenging times.”

*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, January-September 2020.