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.