U.S. Toy Industry Sales Generate $21.47 Billion In 2009

Industry Sales Stabilized as Economy Continued to Struggle

Port Washington, NY, February 1, 2010  - According to leading market research company, The NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.47 billion in 2009 compared to $21.65 billion in 2008, a decline of under 1 percent.  In contrast to fourth quarter (Oct. - Dec.) 2008, Q4 2009 sales reveal that, while revenues were flat due to heavy promotional activity at retail, unit sales were up 4 percent vs. Q4’08.

”2009 was a remarkably uneventful year for the toy industry, but in a good way," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group.  " In a time of continued economic turmoil, toy industry revenues were very stable, and the uptick in unit sales in the fourth quarter is a very positive sign for the industry heading into 2010.”

Looking at revenue sales performance across super-categories, Building Sets and Arts & Crafts experienced the most significant increases, at 23 percent and 7 percent, respectively.  Action Figures and Games/Puzzles saw respective revenue increases of 4 percent and 1 percent. Looking at the opposite side of the revenue sales spectrum, Youth Electronics and Plush experienced the largest declines when compared to 2008, at 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“The increase in Building Sets and Arts & Crafts speaks to the entertainment value these categories deliver," said Frazier. "Both can deliver hours of open-ended play, and Arts & Crafts in particular does so at very attractive price points.”

Counter to what many would expect due to the economy, unit share for toys priced under $5 decreased in 2009, both for the full year and in the fourth quarter. In 2009, while overall unit sales were down less than 1 percent (0.5%), the only price range that lost share were toys under $5. In other words, people were buying more toys priced in the mid-range (between $5 and $10).

All channels experienced flat to minimal gains in share of dollar sales, with the most significant changes being experienced by Toy Stores, which saw a decline of 1 percent mostly due to KB Toy stores closing, and Mass Merchant/Discount experiencing an increase of 1 percent.

Interestingly, while sales for children ages 8 and under still represent the lion’s share of total toy sales at 69 percent, the only age group to gain in share and absolute dollar sales was kids ages 9 to 12.  Again, the significant increase in building sets sales contributed to the increase for this age group.

Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales (in alphabetical order) included Bakugan, Barbie, Crayola, Star Wars, and Transformers.  Licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales in 2009, compared to 2008's 27 percent.  Based on dollar sales, Cars: The Movie, Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer, Star Wars, and Thomas and Friends topped the list of 2009's best-selling licensed properties (in alphabetical order).

“The highly sought-after Zhu Zhu Pets brought welcome excitement to the toy category this holiday, and many other properties benefited from this in Q4,” said Frazier.

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David Riley

The NPD Group, Inc.
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Port Washington, NY 11050

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