Total dollar sales for the U.S. toy industry increased 3% in the third quarter, a $99 million gain over the same period last year, according to the NPD Group. The $3.69 billion for Q3 is a sign that the toy industry could end the year on a positive note, despite year-to-date sales that were down 5.5% at the end of September.

Top properties in Q3 included L.O.L. Surprise!, Marvel Universe, Barbie, Pokémon, and NERF. Overall, licensed toys grew 5% and are outperforming industry growth for the year. Ryan’s World, Pinkfong Baby Shark, Fortnite, and Toy Story are highlights in a packed field of licenses.

This year’s holiday season is a challenging one across the board for toymakers, retailers, and consumers alike due to six fewer shopping days than last year. The last time this happened was in 2013, and that year saw a surge in sales during the final week of the holiday season amounting to a growth of nearly $280 million. During the past two years, an additional day before Christmas has added $200 million in sales to the week.

“We should expect the same levels of growth this year during the week of Christmas; and with the online channel becoming less of an option as we get closer to Christmas day, it’s a great opportunity for brick and mortar stores to gain share,” says Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, toys, The NPD Group. “Retailers need to have the inventory on shelves through Christmas Eve or risk losing out on this last-minute rush.”

Last year, overall retail sales for toys in the U.S. fell 2% following the closure of Toys “R” Us locations.

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.