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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.”

Related: The U.S. Toy Industry Hits Record Sales Despite Pandemic

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.

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.