Toronto, ON, September 30, 2021 – The NPD Group today announced Canadian retail sales of toys have increased by 9% or $104 million for the January-August 2021 time period. In addition, sales have increased 21% or $218 million from the same time period in 2019, prior to COVID-19.  Unit sales are once again showing growth after lagging in 2020, although at a lower rate than dollar increases, up 6% from a year ago and 2% from 2019.

Much of the growth in 2020 and year to date in 2021 is directly correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic with disposable income being diverted from ‘out of home’ types of entertainment to toys. In 2021, toy growth is coming from all across the industry; particularly trading card games, plush toys, building sets, and fashion dolls. As well, some areas of the industry that were hard hit in 2020 during the pandemic such as action figures have seen strong recovery. The top dollar growth categories in 2021 are Games & Puzzles (+9%), Outdoor & Sports Toys (+11%) and Plush (+15%.)

“Traditionally, just over half of all annual toy sales occur in the September to December time period” says Joan Ramsay, Industry Analyst for Canada Entertainment with The NPD Group. “Canadian consumers flocked back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores once lockdowns were lifted, plus e-commerce levels have plateaued after a significant increase in 2020. Heading into the critical October-December time period for the toy industry, we expect to see strong results for both e-commerce and in-store. Success will be determined by which retailers and channels are in stock on key products and can execute.”

Some of the key properties heading into the holiday season include Pokémon, which has had exceptional results this year due to renewed interest in trading cards, plus Barbie, Star Wars, L.O.L. Surprise!, Paw Patrol, and more.

“It’s a bit early to say what the breakout toys will be for holiday 2021, however with most of the big toy launches for fall now in store we should start to see trends emerging shortly” says Ramsay. 

Sales derived from toys based on videogames continue to grow including Super Mario Brothers, Among Us and Roblox. In addition, variations on classic themes such as Spidey and His Friends, new Barbie concepts and the relaunch of brands such as Bratz are now on shelf.

*Source: The NPD Group/ Canadian Retail Tracking Service, January-August 2021 vs 2020 and 2019