NPD Group

Retail toy sales in the U.S. fell two percent in 2018. The small decline follows four consecutive years of growth, and comes as positive news considering the liquidation of Toys “R” Us and the loss of many other retail locations last year.

U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.6 billion in 2018 compared to $22.0 billion in 2017. The NPD Group released its annual sales data, revealing gains across several categories that offset other areas where sales were soft. As the NPD Group’s Juli Lennett predicted in a guest column last fall, the sky never fell because both toymakers and retailers were re-energized to capture business and make the holiday season a success. And, despite the fact that consumers heard bad news on a daily basis, the constant mention of Toys “R” Us helped keep toys and the importance of play on the radar for many American families.

Sales performance across supercategories in 2018 showed mixed results, with four out of 11 posting growth. Gains were seen in action figures and accessories, followed by dolls, youth electronics, and arts and crafts.

Annual 2018 U.S. Toy Industry Performance

Supercategory Dollar Percent Change
Action Figures & Accessories +10 percent
Dolls +7 percent
Youth Electronics +3 percent
Arts & Crafts +3 percent
Games/Puzzles -1 percent
Outdoor & Sports Toys -4 percent
Building Sets -5 percent
Infant/Toddler/Preschool Toys -5 percent
All Other Toys -6 percent
Vehicles -10 percent
Plush -10 percent

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, Annual 2018 vs. 2017

In order of absolute dollar growth, dolls had the strongest growth thanks in large part to L.O.L. Surprise! (MGA Entertainment), Barbie (Mattel), and Hatchimals (Spin Master). Action figures followed, with sales from Jurassic World (Mattel), Marvel Universe (Hasbro), and Beyblade (Hasbro) driving most of the growth. Cool Maker (Spin Master), Cra-Z-Art, and Kinetic (Spin Master) helped the gains in arts and crafts, while Fingerlings (WowWee), Kidi (VTech), and L.O.L. Surprise! helped the youth electronics supercategory experience growth.

Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales included L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Nerf (Hasbro), Marvel Universe, and Hot Wheels (Mattel). MGA Entertainment dominated the traditional toys top sellers, holding seven of the top ten spots.

Top Selling Traditional Toy Items in 2018, Ranked on Dollars

Rank Item Manufacturer
1 L.O.L. Surprise! Doll Assortment MGA Entertainment
2 L.O.L. Surprise! Series Eye Spy Tots Under Wraps Blind Pack Assortment MGA Entertainment
3 L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Bigger Surprise MGA Entertainment
4 L.O.L. Surprise! Pets Blind Pack Assortment MGA Entertainment
5 Hot Wheels Singles 1:64 Assortment Mattel
6 L.O.L. Surprise! Lil Sister Assortment MGA Entertainment
7 L.O.L. Surprise! Pearl Doll Assortment MGA Entertainment
8 L.O.L. Surprise! House With 85 Surprises MGA Entertainment
9 Barbie Dreamhouse Mattel
10 L.O.L. Surprise! Biggie Pets Assortment MGA Entertainment

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service

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.