Strong December US toy sales have helped the industry overturn a year marked by unsettling economic forecasts and increased competition from consumer electronics. According to data from The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, which represents roughly 80% of the US retail market for toys, dollar sales were up 18% during the last two weeks of December and unit sales were up 10% over the same period last year.
Moreover, the numbers show that consumers are willing to pay more for toys that they view as being beneficial to children’s play or learning experiences. For instance, the average price paid for a building set rose 12% in 2012, and consumers paid 14% more for arts & crafts.
Overall, dollar sales for December topped US$5 billion for the first time in three years, and were up 1.3% versus last year. This was the second consecutive December with revenue growth for the category, as 2011 dollar sales were up 1.5% compared with 2010.
For 2012 overall, retail toy sales totaled US$16.5 billion, a minor dip from the US$16.6 billion recorded in 2011.
Toy industry categories with the largest revenue gains in 2012 were building sets, arts & crafts, dolls and infant/preschool, with respective increases of 19.7%, 6.9%, 5.8% and 2.5%. Plush, outdoor & sports toys, vehicles and games/puzzles experienced the most significant declines, while action figures/accessories & role play, as well as youth electronics, were all flat.
Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales included Barbie, Disney Princess, Hot Wheels, Monster High and Star Wars. LeapFrog’s LeapPad Explorer and Leapster Explorer were particularly dominant in terms of sales in 2012.