In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, US kids and families are clearly trying to find any excuse to get outside. Sales of outdoor and sports toys surged by US$193 million in April 2020—a 51% increase over the same time period last year—according to market research firm The NPD Group.
The outdoor and sports toy category contributed to 53% of the total growth in the toy industry in the same time period, according to NPD retail sales data, leading to a 22% growth in the US toy industry in April.
“Across the [US], outdoor spaces are taking the place of daycares, schoolyards, and sports fields,” says Juli Lennett, the NPD’s toy industry advisor in a statement. She also says she only expects these numbers to increase as the weather gets warmer and families use outdoor space as a way to escape for social isolation indoors.
Growth in the supercategory was driven by a number of different sub-categories, including playground equipment (81% growth), skate/skateboards/scooters (107%), ride-ons (78%), water/sand toys & accessories (47%), pools (161%) and sports activities and games (25%).
This comes after NPD saw a 20% growth in the sports toys category in US toy sales in March. At the time, those outdoor categories were bested by indoor, family-inclusive options such as games and puzzles (which was up 228% in March) and arts and crafts (up 70% in the same time period).
For the first few of months of lockdown, kids seemed content to watch a lot more TV, spent time with their families playing games, and play lots of eSports (which saw a 28% spike in April compared to the previous 12 months), according to UK-based research firm Kids Insights. But as summer approaches, schools paused in many places indefinitely, and parents expect to continue working from home, Lennet expects that keeping children busy will be a priority and those outdoor solutions will keep growing.