The Entertainer

Employees of UK toy seller The Entertainer : Source: The Entertainer

The UK toy industry grew 5% last year, according to the latest data provided by The NPD Group.

Strict COVID-19 lockdowns — which are happening again right now — fueled 19% overall growth in games and puzzles, mirroring results in the U.S. Puzzles alone spiked 38% in 2020. Additional categories scoring big include building sets and outdoor toys with gains of 18% and 15%, respectively. NPD also notes a 9% increase in sales of learning and exploration toys, including STEM toys and musical instruments as families sought screen-free learning options.

Pandemic aside, the continued growth of the “kidult” market gained steam in the UK to account for 27% of total toy sales in the UK. According to NPD, the impressive numbers in the adult and teen category were driven by sales of higher ticket items including complex construction sets, and yes — more games and puzzles.

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“One thing is certain, the importance of playing together with toys, games, and puzzles as a family, group or alone has been re-established during the lockdowns,” says Frédérique Tutt, global industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Many people have also rediscovered the value of nature and the environment in the pandemic, and one encouraging sector trend is that green issues have come to the fore, and many manufacturers are reducing packaging and incorporating eco-friendly materials in their products. Finally, when cinemas hopefully reopen later on in the year, blockbusters will boost toy sales once again.”

The top bestselling toy charts in the UK last year were dominated by familiar brands and products, including MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise!, Mattel’s Barbie and Hot Wheels, Spin Master’s PAW Patrol, Hasbro’s Monopoly, LEGO Technic and Super Mario Bros. sets, and tech items from VTech.