New data from The NPD Group shows the US toy industry grew 7.5% in the first half of 2016. And according to the global research firm, this year is on track to outpace 2015′s mid-year and annual growth rates.
Overall, NPD predicts the industry will grow approximately 7%—or US$1.4 billion—in fiscal 2016, representing the highest gains for the US toy market since 1999.
This boost is largely being traced back to toys with movie tie-ins. Star Wars was the biggest contributor to mid-year growth, with dollar sales for the brand increasing nearly 200% through June. By July 2, Star Wars merch had reached US$300 million in sales, compared to US$700 million for all of 2015.
In fact, Rhode Island-based toyco Hasbro reported Q2 revenues of US$878.9 million—a 10% increase versus the same period in 2015—driven by strong sales of Star Wars products.
Based on dollar amounts from January to June 2016, NPD says other top properties include NERF, Shopkins, Pokémon, LEGO Star Wars, Disney Frozen and Barbie.
Barbie’s recent growth has been particularly significant for Mattel, which, until its most recent quarter, had sustained eight consecutive periods of losses with the iconic plastic doll. At the end of Mattel’s second quarter, however, Barbie sales had risen 23% to US$160.5 million on the heels of its forward-thinking Fashionistas line.
Television, over-the-top and other content providers—including YouTube and social media—have also been connected to the growth in toy sales.
Examining the industry by super-category rather than by brand, NPD found outdoor and sports toys to be the largest contributor to profits so far this year, with US$1.7 billion in sales. Additional super-categories showing significant growth are dolls, action figures and puzzles.