The U.S. toy industry grew its dollar sales by seven percent to $7.9 billion in the first half of this year, according to The NPD Group. Over these six months, which included the beginning and end of the Toys “R” Us liquidation, there were a number of catalysts for growth.
The strongest growth driver in the first half came from toys priced from $5 to $19.99, and this was led by L.O.L Surprise!, Total Marvel, Fingerlings, Hatchimals, and Soft’n Slo Squishes. The influence of these toy properties is also clear when looking at the toy industry’s performance by supercategory.
Youth electronics was the fastest growing supercategory in the market, up 43 percent, driven by Fingerlings, Star Wars, and Tamagotchi. According to NPD’s new report, The Future of Toys, growth in youth electronics is expected to continue over the next year and a half, stemming mainly from robotic/interactive playmates, as manufacturers place heightened emphasis on technology to compete with tech products sold outside of the toy industry.
Sales in dolls grew by 17 percent, led by L.OL. Surprise!, Hatchimals, and Barbie. These three toy properties alone captured more than two-thirds of the supercategory’s growth. While play set dolls and collectibles has been the star segment within dolls, The Future of Toys highlights that fashion dolls, role play, and large dolls are expected to perform strongly starting in the second half of next year due to the expected positive effects of the November 2019 movie release of Frozen 2.
A notable turnaround to positive growth since last year primarily attributed to the box office, action figures, and accessories grew its sales by 16 percent. The supercategory was lifted by the movie release of Black Panther in February, Avengers: Infinity War in April, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the end of June.
Dinosaur- and pony/unicorn-themed toys grew by 77 percent year-to-date through June, and NPD expects these themes to be trending this holiday season. Driving the dinosaur trend has primarily been the Jurassic World brand, as well as Fingerlings and other dinosaur-related products. The unicorn trend and more has infiltrated many industries, including the toy industry. While dinosaur toy sales are growing at a brisker pace, pony/unicorn represents a larger portion of toy sales.
Among the top 20 new items for June that are moving off shelves at the fastest rate where they are being sold, six have a dinosaur or unicorn theme. They include: Unicorn Sprinkler, Fingerlings Untamed Dino Stealth, Little Tikes Magical Unicorn Carriage, Jurassic World Roarivores Assortment, Mega Unicorn Island Inflatable, and Jurassic World Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate.