U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Were Flat, Toys Declined, NPD Says

Recent data from the NPD Group confirms that it was a lackluster holiday season at retail.

U.S. holiday sales in key general merchandise categories rose just 0.2% last year, essentially coming up flat compared to 2018. The truncated holiday selling season — the shortest since 2013 — saw a big uptick in the final week, with NPD’s weekly point-of-sale results reflecting strong sales volumes across apparel, toys, technology, small appliances, athletic footwear, and more.

“Holiday 2019 was all about cadence, with early promotions moving a fair amount of holiday sales ahead of the traditional shopping period and a surge of sales during the final week’s last-minute rush,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, the NPD Group. “Additionally, consumers continue to migrate to more ‘intangible’ gifting, putting more emphasis on experiences than things and focusing more on how they live than how they look this holiday.”

One concerning note that will be explored in greater detail later this month is how the toy industry as a whole performed. According to NPD, toys joined apparel in charting the largest sales declines when compared to the 2018 holiday season.

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.