NPD: U.S. Toy Industry Retail Sales Rose 16 Percent in 2020

npd-2020-salesThe following article is based on a press release issued by The NPD Group on January 25, 2021.

January 25, 2021 | The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a 16 percent increase in U.S. toy retail sales (reaching $25.1 billion) in 2020*, according to The NPD Group.

“2020 was an unprecedented year for the U.S. toy industry. The growth we’ve seen in the toy industry speaks to the fact that parents are willing to put their children’s happiness above all else,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, U.S. Toys, The NPD Group. “The industry’s resiliency is very much underpinned by the reality that, in times of hardship, families look to toys to help keep their children engaged, active, and delighted. Put simply, toys are a big part of the happiness equation.”

NPD reported sales increases in the following categories: sports toys (+31%), fashion dolls and accessories (+56%), building sets (+26%), games (+29%), and summer seasonal toys (+24%). Top properties for the year included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Star Wars, Pokémon, and Marvel Universe, which combined accounted for 13% of all toy sales for 2020. As units declined in seven of the 11 supercategories, average selling price increased in every supercategory to drive growth in dollar sales and a shift in product mix to higher-priced categories.

Much of the growth was fueled by changing consumer behavior associated with widespread lockdowns and school closures, the disposable income diverted from other types of entertainment to toys, as well as the onset of federal stimulus checks. While toy sales through mid-March 2020 were flat vs. 2019, widespread lockdown measures led to an abrupt increase in sales. This was further amplified by the distribution of stimulus checks beginning in April, resulting in the strongest month of growth for the year in May (+38%). Toy industry growth peaked again in October with an increase of 33% when the holiday season kicked off with Amazon Prime Day along with other retailer deals the same week.

An uptick in online toy sales was also seen as pandemic lockdowns led to retail closures and consumer hesitancy toward shopping in stores. In the first three quarters of 2020, the online channel gained 10 share points from the 23% share in 2019, leading to 75% growth in overall online toy sales year over year**. Both e-tailers as well as brick-and-mortar retailers with buy online, in-store pickup, or curbside options outperformed.

Commenting on the NPD’s latest figures, Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association, stated: “In 2020, American families facing lockdowns and school closures instinctively turned to our trusted member companies and their imaginative products for comfort, to support at-home learning, and for much-needed fun in an uncertain time. 2021 should see continued strength in ecommerce and mass market, while significantly increased vaccination rates will eventually be a boon for specialty stores and all physical retail. Yet at the same time, as families shift spending back to forgone entertainment and travel options, it will be important to compare 2021 trends to both 2020 and 2019."

*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, January-December 2020 vs. 2019
** Source: The NPD Group/ Consumer Tracking Service / U.S. / YTD September 2020 vs. 2019
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% of the U.S. retail market for Toys.