Toy Book Arts & Crafts

The spread of the new coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic is creating an unusual situation that is simultaneously both hurting and helping certain areas of the toy industry.

Following a sales spike that started to move the needle during the week ending March 14, the NPD Group’s Weekly Retail Tracking Service reports that total toy sales in the U.S. surged by 26% for the week ending March 21. The growth was led by a 228% sales increase in games and puzzles, followed by a 76% spike in building sets, and a 70% boom in and arts and crafts. Spring weather is also driving a 20% increase in sales for outdoor and sports toys.

“Consumers have prepared for their family’s survival over an extended period by stocking up on the basic necessities, but as schools and workplaces closed, phase two of the big scramble began,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s toy industry advisor. “U.S. parents loaded up on things to keep their kids occupied at home, help them navigate their new homeschooling situation, and to also be a source of entertainment for the whole family as we spend more time at home.”

As more states begin to enforce stay-at-home orders, shopping trips become fewer, and Lennett points to the forthcoming Easter holiday as another influence on increased sales in March.

“Parents are likely seeking stability for their kids by maintaining Easter traditions and also buying ahead,” she says.

The toy-related coloring and art subcategory of office supplies experienced an 86% increase with sales of chalk, window and glass markers, colored markers, finger paints, tempera paint, watercolor paper, and painting accessories booming.

Additionally, NPD says that the increase in homeschooling and virtual classrooms led an 18% category increase for traditional back-to-school items as crayons kids’ watercolors, and colored pencil sets hit triple-digit growth.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.