President’s Letter: Slowdown? We’re Not Slowing Down!
June 14, 2022 | As society opens back up and services and experiences are on the rise, the U.S. toy industry’s unprecedented growth over the past two years appears to be slowing, as anticipated, with The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service reporting a 6 percent decline in unit sales and modest 1 percent dollar growth for the first four months of 2022. Thankfully, the U.S. has shown 44 percent growth, 2022 versus 2019.
It has indeed been a great run underscored with fresh products and innovative marketing across categories. The U.S. toy and play community persevered, driving double-digit growth for the industry amid pandemic shutdowns, skyrocketing shipping costs, and global bottlenecks from factory floor to retailer shelves. Instead of realizing some early bleak predictions, we were blessed as America embraced toys as a source of joy during dark days, families rediscovered game night, and parents sought to keep their kids happy, active, and engaged through play.
While total sales may be losing some momentum, The Toy Association is accelerating. We continue to aggressively advocate for your best interests and provide exclusive resources and opportunities to help your businesses push forward, navigate obstacles, and find success. And, our just-released report shows the annual combined positive economic impact of the toy industry on America is now a significant $102.4 billion, supporting 572,006 jobs, and investing $14.5 billion in production that remains in the U.S.
Yesterday, one of The Toy Association’s top legislative priorities (alongside IP protection!), the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, passed Congress and is expected to be signed by President Biden. We fought hard for short and long-term solutions to the shipping crisis, advocating across Capitol Hill and the Administration for well more than a year. This legislation is a major win for our members, representing months of advocacy by our Board Executive Committee and staff, who have been engaging lawmakers to find solutions and to empower the Federal Maritime Commission with deeper authority to act while providing our members with tools and support to get products into ports and onto shelves for consumers. It’s a good first step with more to come. Recognizing this crisis is not nearly over, the Association continues to offer resources to navigate the shipping crisis and access to webinars (the next one with the Port of Houston on August 4) with critical updates as you prepare for Q4.
This fall in Dallas, retailers and toy companies asked us for the opportunity to come together and we’re making that happen with The Toy Association’s first in-person marketplace since February 2020. Plans for the Preview & Holiday Market (September 20-22) are well underway and major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Target, to a host of mid-mass and other important retailers, have already committed. The Toy Foundation’s 2022 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards are taking place on the first day of the trade show – an opportunity to gather, celebrate the winners, and support the philanthropic work of TTF. (Don’t forget to submit your nominations by July 8!) We are also proud to partner with WiT bringing their Women’s Empowerment Day back to Dallas. There are more surprises in store which we’ll be unveiling in the coming weeks. It’s a not-to-be-missed business, networking, and media opportunity ahead of Q4.
It remains our top priority to help the toy community thrive as we enter a post-pandemic era. Toys remain a necessity for many families, and we continue to promote our members’ innovative takes on new trends and old classics in front of TV audiences. Go-to-market opportunities remain essential while tackling your business challenges and protecting your business rights are absolute. I invite you to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by your Association and to reach out if there is anything our team can do to help.
Finally, we are fast at work on Toy Fair's Toy & Play Product Media Preview planned for March of 2023. This event will showcase the companies and products that will make a mark on the business of toys (and toy lovers) in 2023 and early 2024. We’re designing a great way for toy companies to affordably activate consumer press and the financial community in the media and finance capital of America. Stay tuned for more details over the next couple months. And you thought a Q1 trip to NYC was off?!
As we transition into the heart of summer and with many challenges still before us, I invite you all to take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect, relax and have some fun – please RSVP for our Summer Party at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan on July 12th. We hope to see you there!
All good wishes for health and prosperity in the months ahead,
President & CEO