NPD: U.S. Toy Industry Retail Sales Decline 2 Percent in 2018

The following article is based on a press release issued by The NPD Group on January 28, 2019.

January 28, 2019 | U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.6 billion in 2018 compared to $22 billion in 2017, a decline of 2 percent*, according to The NPD Group. The 2 percent decline comes after four straight years of growth in the toy industry.

“Following four years of solid growth, U.S. toymakers defied constant media pronouncements of doom and gloom linked to the demise of Toys“R”Us by instead delivering vastly better-than-expected results, which are consistent with The Toy Association’s view of a low-single-digit decline at worst,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. “The energy, inventiveness, and outright passion of toymakers and retailers has put the U.S. market in excellent position for a full recovery through 2019. Hot properties lead by L.O.L. Surprise, licensed products from Jurassic World and Marvel Universe; further positive results from Fingerlings; and, unique hits like Cool Maker and Kidi are among a range of diverse playthings, new products, and fresh takes on storied brands that keeps consumers excited and ready to shop.”

Sales performance across super-categories in 2018 showed mixed results, with four out of 11 posting growth. NPD reported sales increases in the following categories: Action Figures & Accessories (+10 percent), Dolls (+7 percent), Youth Electronics (+3 percent), and Arts & Crafts (+3 percent). The declines in the other categories were as follows: Games/Puzzles (-1 percent), Outdoor & Sports Toys (-4 percent), Building Sets (-5 percent), Infant/Toddler/Preschool Toys (-5 percent), All Other Toys (-6 percent), Vehicles (-10 percent), and Plush (-10 percent).

In order of absolute dollar growth, Dolls had the strongest growth thanks in large part to L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, and Hatchimals. Action Figures followed, with sales from Jurassic World, Marvel Universe, and Beyblade driving most of the growth. Cool Maker, Cra-Z-Art, and Kinetic helped the gains in Arts and Crafts, while Fingerlings, Kidi, and L.O.L. Surprise! helped the Youth Electronics supercategory experience growth.

Top licensed properties for the year based on total dollar sales included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Nerf, Marvel Universe, and Hot Wheels.

“After the liquidation announcement of Toys‟R”Us last year, there was a great deal of speculation about what would happen to the industry, with some predicting double-digit declines,” said Juli Lennett, NPD’s vice president and industry advisor of toys. “Overall, a two percent decline is a solid performance after such a significant shift in the retail landscape. It’s also worth noting that annual 2018 sales are slightly higher than 2016, which experienced mid-single digit growth.”

*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, U.S. Dollar Sales, January-December 2018. Coinciding with the National Retail Federation calendar which includes an extra 53rd week in 2018, annual dollar sales and trends have been adjusted to account for the extra week. 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 78 percent of the U.S. retail market for Toys.