It’s officially been over one year since the U.S. — and most of the world — was brought to a near-standstill by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the toy industry prospered in a year that saw families spending more time together than ever before, the industry will soon face difficult comps to match or beat as the world reopens and life moves toward whatever a post-pandemic normal will be. In terms of the overall U.S. economy as it relates to retail spending, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says that much progress has been made, but recovery is uneven.
“The economy has come a long way compared with a year ago,” says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Both monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve and fiscal policy set by Congress and the White House have responded with swift and overwhelming force to support the economy. NRF is optimistic that the recovery is accelerating and the needed rebuilding of the economy is underway. The rate of vaccinations is ramping up, and the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture.”
In the April issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review, the organization looks at how the past year has evolved from the devastating shock of last spring when more than 22 million Americans lost their jobs in a span of just two months. The NRF notes that in that same period, unemployment shot from a 50-year low of 3.5% to 14.7%, and economic output fell off a cliff to drop 31%.
With the current economic rebound, unemployment still sits at 6.2% with around 10 million Americans out of work.
The NRF believes that 2021 retail sales should spike between 6.5% and 8.2% this year.
First-quarter toy industry sales numbers are expected to be released by The NPD Group within the next few weeks.