U.S. toy sales greaw 5 percent last year, reaching $20.4 billion, according to retail sales data from The NPD Group. The industry was 16 percent larger in 2016 than last year, calculating a compounded annual growth rate of 5 percent.
Collectibles was a top contributor to the industry’s growth last year, with sales growing 33 percent, or $432 million, to reach $1.8 billion and representing 9 percent of total toy industry dollars. Sales of blind packs grew 60 percent for the year, and since 2013 sales have grown more than six-fold.
The next largest contributor was Outdoor & Sports Toys, the largest supercategory that also experienced the largest dollar gains of any supercategory, at $328 million. Leading this growth were sports and summer seasonal toys. The Games segment grew 21 percent for the year, or $307 million, with games for kids and adults alike all showing growth. Illustrating the influence of this segment, Pie Face Showdown and Speak Out from Hasbro both landed in the top-10 list of new items for 2016.
Games/Puzzles, Dolls, and Outdoor & Sports Toys were among seven out of the 11 super-categories that posted gains in 2016, and were the fastest-growing at 18 percent, 10 percent, and 10 percent, respectively.
There were also a number of properties that helped grow the toy industry in 2016. Star Wars outperformed its 2015 sales, reaching nearly $760 million in 2016 and maintaining its position as the top property, based on dollar sales. Coinciding with the Pokémon Go phenomenon and Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Sun video games, Pokémon was the top growth property of the year in toys. Further illustrating the impact of content on toy sales, three of the 10 top-growing properties had movie tie-ins from movies released in 2016: Trolls, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Finding Dory.
Although consumers had two extra shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2016—with one of those being a Saturday—overall retail performance was mixed this holiday season. While sales the week before Christmas grew by 28 percent, it is likely this happened at the expense of the other weeks in Q4. Consumers began the holiday shopping season by taking advantage of early Cyber Monday online promotions during Thanksgiving and Black Friday week, but sales took a downward turn during the first three weeks of December, until last-minute shopping kicked in.