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US toy sales down, but holding up in recession: NPD

Sales figures of US$21.5 billion is nothing to sneeze at, as market researcher The NPD Group reports that US toy sales are down only 2% for the 12 months ending August 2009.
September 30, 2009

Sales figures of US$21.5 billion is nothing to sneeze at, as market researcher The NPD Group reports that US toy sales are down only 2% for the 12 months ending August 2009.

Industry analyst Anita Frazier notes that even though product categories from apparel, consumer technology and video games have seen a 5% decline or more for the first half of the year, ‘the toy industry is weathering the economic storm.’

Interestingly, it seems the red-hot trend of web-connected toys (i.e. Webkinz) has cooled off, with those sales seeing a year-to-date decline of 41%, compared to the January-August 2008 period.

Supercategories that have seen gains include building sets (21%), action figures & accessories (14%), youth electronics (5%), arts & crafts (4%) and games/puzzles (3%). All others took a hit this year, with plush (down 17%) and vehicles (down 13%) seeing the largest declines.

Frazier also noted that Bakugan, G.I. Joe and Transformers were the three properties in the action figure supercategory that generated the most growth year-to-date, and that Didj and Kid Tough are the two top brands seeing gains in youth electronics.

Kids ages five and younger are the sweet spot for the toy industry, representing 46% of total industry sales through August, in particular the three-to-five set, which accounts for more than 25% of total toy sales. Still, that age group saw a 5% decline in dollar sales and comprises a smaller share of the industry than last year.

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