Despite disruptions to the supply chain, toy sales in the US grew by 17% over the first three quarters of 2021, according to new data from market research firm The NPD Group. This US$2.3-billion increase was driven by factors including the child tax credit, price increases and a continuation of pandemic lifestyles, the report has found.
In Q3 specifically, US toy sales increased by 11%, thanks in large part to plush. The super-category was up 39% on the strength of brands including Squishmallows (pictured), CoComelon and Care Bears.
But a total of nine of the 11 super-categories tracked by NPD posted Q3 sales increases. And while the biggest gains were seen in plush, explorative & other toys (33%) and building sets (24%) were also up significantly. In fact, only dolls (-1%) and youth electronics (-15%) experienced sales declines in Q3.
This marks a notable shift compared to the first half of the fiscal year, when growth was largely driven by outdoor & sports toys. US sales for this super-category jumped by 11% between January and June 2021—a US$280-million surge driven by strong performances in water-related toys, scooters, skateboards and playground equipment. But in Q3, the sales growth in outdoor & sports toys slowed to just 6%.
The third quarter’s top-performing properties were Barbie, Pokémon, Star Wars, L.O.L. Surprise!, Fisher-Price, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, LEGO Star Wars and NERF. Sales for these brands combined grew by 17% in Q3, outpacing the rest of the market’s 9%.
And while Q3 2021 sales did grow by double digits compared to the same period the previous year, they were down slightly by 6% against the first two quarters of 2021. This is likely a result of ongoing delays in the shipping industry, according to NPD’s US toy industry advisor, Juli Lennett.