London, September 13th, 2021: The NPD Group today released its latest figures on the British toy industry showing strong sales so far in 2021. Frédérique Tutt, Global Industry Expert, Toys – The NPD Group says: “With anticipated supply chain shortages and resultant price increases on the cards, people need to shop early if they know what toys the children in their lives want this Christmas.”

Strong level of consumer demand in 2021 as prices rise

The strong level of sales reached last year persisted into the first eight months of 2021. Compared to 2019, we have seen a 10% increase in value sales, with just a +0.5% increase in volume sales. In short, Brits have bought the same number of toys compared to a “normal” year but have opted for more expensive products. The 9% increase of the average price paid per toy, up from £7.81 in 2019 to £8.52 this year, doesn’t reflect inflation or price increases but shows that we have bought bigger boxes, offering longer and better play time rather than everyday low-priced toys.”

Top-selling categories: Collectibles are back!

The categories that have grown most in 2021 include Building Sets (+£13.7m), Strategic Trading Card Games (+£11.7m), Traditional Plush (+£9.3m) and Non-Strategic Trading Card Games (+£9m). We can see in these trends a return to in-store buying and a come back for collectables.

Back-to-School Playground Favourites

With 19% growth since the beginning of this year, collectables are doing well despite schools being closed for weeks. Pokémon cards, which are celebrating their 25th anniversary, are leading the way ahead of Panini stickers boosted by the World Cup, L.O.L. Surprise!, Funko Pop! and Zuru’s Five surprise. Fidget pops are also expected to become the playground favorite, with more than a 1,500,000 colored poppers already sold to date in the traditional channels, and new products such as Shopkins Real Little from Moose or the return of Zoobles from Spin Master should also follow the trend.

Frédérique Tutt says: “Now kids are back at school, expect to see a strong performance from collectables that will reinforce an already upward trend.”

Brits happy to click for their toys

In the first half of 2021, 60% of overall toy sales in the UK were made online, the highest number in Europe, a 4% increase in sales over last year. Tutt says: “In the first six months of the year, both grocers and toy specialists gained share in the UK toy market. This was achieved by sales made in the grocery stores who stayed open continuously and online for the specialists who devoted more space and investment in their omnichannel strategy. By adapting this way, the industry has continued to grow and deliver much-needed entertainment at home for children and parents alike.”

Shop early to avoid shortages, sell-outs and price rises

Retailers and brands are trying to bring their stock shipments forward to prepare for the last quarter of the calendar year, but are expecting shortages to hit well before Christmas, especially on new products. In 2020 UK consumers heeded the shop early warning, with 35% starting their festive season buying in September and October, up 4 points on 2019. One third (30%) had finished their Christmas shopping by the end of November, up from 18% in 2019.

Tutt concludes: “As the UK is now up and running almost as normal, the toy industry is wondering how and where consumers are going to buy toys in the last quarter of the year. According to The NPD Group’s recent study entitled “The Future of Toys”, a majority of British consumers intend to buy as much online in the next 12 months as they have in the last year.”