PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — According to global information company the NPD Group, consumers rewarded the U.S. retail toy industry with a strong December.
Based on data from the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, many shoppers waited until the last two weeks of December to do their holiday toy shopping. Looking at those two weeks, dollar sales were up 18%and unit sales were up 10% when compared to the same time period in 2011.
Overall, dollar sales for December topped $5 billion for the first time in three years, and were up 1.3% versus the same period in 2011; the data is representative of retailers that participate in the group’s tracking service or approximately 80% of the toy retail market. This was the second consecutive December with revenue growth for the category, as 2011 dollar sales were up 1.5% compared with 2010.
For the year overall, U.S. retail Toy sales totaled $16.5 billion, a slight decline from the $16.6 billion recorded in 2011; again, data is representative of retailers that participate in the group’s tracking service.
"Like other categories, toys took a hit in November, caused by waning consumer confidence, concern about fiscal policy and Superstorm Sandy," said Russ Crupnick, SVP, industry analysis, the NPD Group. "Events like these prevented toys from experiencing a better year. The good news is when consumers did break out of their cocoon in late December they flocked to the toys section at their favorite retailers."
The toy industry categories in the U.S. with the largest revenue gains in 2012 were building sets, arts and crafts, dolls and infant/preschool, with respective increases of 19.7%, 6.9%, 5.8% and 2.5%. Plush, outdoor and sports toys, vehicles and games/puzzles experienced the most significant declines when compared to 2011, at 12.6%, 8%, 6.2% and 5.8%, respectively. The remaining categories were action figures/accessories and role play, youth electronics and all other toys, which were all flat.
"Another positive note is that we’re seeing consumers willing to trade up to more expensive toys in many of these segments," said Crupnick. "For example, the average price paid for a building set rose 12 percent in 2012, and consumers paid 14 percent more for arts and crafts. This suggests that consumers are willing to pay more for toys that they perceive as being b