Year-to-date sales declined 5.5 percent but anticipated growth in fourth quarter could help the industry end the year on a positive note
Port Washington, NY, November 14, 2019 – According to global information company The NPD Group, the U.S. toy industry saw dollar sales increase by $99 million to $3.69 billion in the third quarter (July 2019 – September 2019), a 3 percent increase over the same time period last year*. While the U.S. toy industry experienced a decline of 5.5 percent in the nine months ending September 2019, anticipated growth in the fourth quarter (Oct. – Dec.) could help the toy industry end the year on a positive note.
In the third quarter, 4 of the 11 supercategories tracked by NPD posted sales gains: Action Figures & Accessories, Outdoor & Sports Toys, Games/Puzzles, and Building Sets. All other supercategories posted losses.
The top properties included L.O.L. Surprise!, Marvel Universe, Barbie, Pokémon and Nerf. The top 10 properties made up 21 percent of total industry dollar sales, with 7 of the top 10 properties posting gains.
The top-performing growth properties based on total dollar sales included Toy Story, Fortnite, Pokémon, Ryan’s World, and Pinkfong Baby Shark. Content drove growth; all of these top growth properties had content to support it from movies, video games, and/or YouTube. Licensed toys grew 5 percent in the third quarter and are outperforming industry growth.
Looking Ahead to the Holidays
The NPD Group is anticipating growth in the fourth quarter (Q4) over Q4 2018 due to comparisons to last year, which were hampered by the closing of Toys”R”Us and the pantry loading that occurred as a result of the liquidation in the first half of 2018.
There will be six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year; and the last time this happened, in 2013, there was a surge in sales during the final week of the holiday season for the toy industry. That year, Christmas was on Wednesday, one day later than the prior year, and that week posted growth of nearly $280 million. For the last two years, the additional day before Christmas has also added $200 million in sales to the week.
“We should expect the same levels of growth this year during the week of Christmas; and with the online channel becoming less of an option as we get closer to Christmas day, it’s a great opportunity for brick and mortar stores to gain share,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, Toys, The NPD Group. “Retailers need to have the inventory on shelves through Christmas Eve or risk losing out on this last minute rush.”
*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, January-September 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 percent of the U.S. retail market for Toys.