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.
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.