The US toy industry saw sales grow 7% to US$7.9 billion in the first half of 2018, according to new data from market research firm The NPD Group. Growth in the first six months was led by toys priced US$5 to US$19.99, including L.O.L. Surprise! (pictured), Fingerlings, Hatchimals, Total Marvel and Soft’n Slo Squishies.
The first half of the year encompassed the liquidation of Toys “R” Us, which several toycos including Mattel, Jakks Pacific and Hasbro all cited as having an effect on their Q2 results. Juli Lennett, SVP and industry advisor for The NPD Group’s US toys division, said in a statement that the loss of TRU may have created an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys. In fact, previous data from NPD found that US toy sales grew by 13% in the first 14 weeks of 2018 due to the beginning of TRU liquidations and an early Easter.
Youth Electronics was the fastest-growing supercategory in the first half of the year (up 43%), due in large part to Fingerlings, Star Wars and Tamagotchi. The NPD Group anticipates the supercategory will continue to grow throughout the rest of 2018 on the strength of robotic/interactive playmates.
The Dolls supercategory also saw significant increases, with L.O.L. Surprise! (pictured), Hatchimals and Barbie contributing more than two-thirds of the supercategory’s 17% growth. Moving forward NPD anticipates that fashion dolls, role play and large dolls will perform well due to the positive effects of the upcoming 2019 film Frozen 2.
Another supercategory to see growth in the first half of the year was Box Office, Action Figures and Accessories, which grew 16% thanks to Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Other supercategories, however, saw declines, with Building Sets, Games/Puzzles and Plush all reporting a drop in sales in the first six months of 2018.
Dinosaur- and pony/unicorn-themed toys saw a huge bump in sales, growing 77% year-to-date through June. Dinosaur toy sales are growing at a faster pace, though the pony/unicorn theme represents a larger portion of toy sales. The NPD Group expects both themes will continue to trend through the holiday season.