Target Toy Department
Target Toy Department
A Target Toy Department | Source: Target Corp.

Toy sales in the U.S. continue to rise in dollar amount, but unit sales tell a contradictory tale.

In the first half of 2022, total industry dollar sales experienced mild 2% growth to $11.4 billion, according to The NPD Group. On the flip side of the coin, unit sales slid 6% while the average selling price (ASP) spiked 8% to $11.30. The new data arrives as the toy industry continues to run up against skewed pandemic-era comps while simultaneously facing inflation and other challenges.

“While the toy industry has pulled back to growth of 2%, this is remarkable as only six of the 14 industries that NPD tracks posted growth at all in the first half of 2022 following two years of extraordinary consumer spending,” says Juli Lennett, U.S. toys industry advisor, The NPD Group. “This speaks to the resiliency of the U.S. toy industry during these uncertain economic times.”

The pandemic era of 2020-2021 brought an unexpected boom to the toy industry and other consumer products verticals as families spent more time than ever at home and rediscovered play. NPD notes that the 2% dollar growth comes on top of double-digit gains during both years.

The Big Winners

Just four supercategories grew in the first six months of this year. Plush continues to dominate growth with a 43% spike in the first half of the year. Jazwares‘ Squishmallows leads the charge with Moose Toys‘ Magic Mixies and assorted items from Disney driving further growth. Explorative and Other toys follows with a 28% gain led by the booming trading cards business, fueled largely by MLB, NBA, and NFL sports cards.

Related: The Toy Book Names Specialty Retail Trends for Summer 2022

Action Figures & Accessories grew 12% fueled by Funko Pop! Vinyl figures and movie-driven spikes for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Jurassic World: Dominion-inspired toys. Finally, the Building Sets category experienced 7% growth driven by strong sales in LEGO, including LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Creator Expert, and LEGO Technic.

Overall, NPD says that the U.S. toy industry has gained approximately 16 million buyers since 2019 and that many of them are sticking around.

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.