Star Wars toys, content-backed properties and an extra shopping day were the driving forces behind the US toy industry’s unprecedented 6.7% growth to US$19.4 billion in 2015.
According to The NPD Group, nine of the 11 super-categories it tracks made gains. And with the early release of Star Wars toys on Force Friday, the Disney-owned franchise cleared US$700 million in toy sales stateside, helping to boost the industry’s overall sales by more than $US1.3 billion from a year ago.
Breaking down the super-categories, games/puzzles saw double-digit growth at 10.8%, and not far behind were vehicles and building sets at 9.7% and 9.4%, respectively. Three categories topped 8% growth—outdoor/sports (8.8%), action figures/accessories (8.7%) and dolls (8.4%), while the infant/toddler/preschool category was up 5.7%—all other toys gained 4.3% and plush saw a modest 1.6% increase. The only two categories to decline were arts/crafts (-4.3%) and youth electronics (-4.9%).
As for the top-selling items, Moose Toys’ Shopkins reigned supreme with its Shopkins 12-pack (pictured) taking the number one spot and a Shopkins two-pack coming it at number four. Spin Master’s Paw Patrol basic vehicle with puppy placed second. Mattel grabbed the number three, five, seven and nine spots with its Hot Wheels basic assortment, Barbie Dream House, Minecraft mini figures and Hot Wheels five-car gift pack assortment, respectively. And rounding out the top 10 were Playmates’ TMNT figures in sixth, Sphero’s BB-8 Droid in eight and Lego’s Minecraft The Cave building set in 10th.
According to NPD, properties backed by content—Star Wars, Jurassic World, Minions, Avengers (which all had blockbuster films), Paw Patrol (TV series), Minecraft (app) and Shopkins (YouTube)—saw the biggest growth in 2015. Generally speaking, the movies category did the best, outperforming the market and registering a 9.4% increase. Of note, Star Wars brought in more sales and growth than the Jurassic World, Minion and Avengers properties combined.
Another key factor in the unusual growth in toy sales was the fact that Christmas Day fell on a Friday last year, which gave consumers an extra 24 hours to shop, compared to 2014, and contributed to a 25% increase in toy sales during Christmas week.
The week of Christmas, which represents 8% of yearly US toy sales, is second only to the week before Christmas, which claims 8.5%. NPD notes these two busy shopping weeks are the most important for the toy industry and illustrate how important it is for retailers to be well-stocked right up until Christmas Eve.