Target Toy Department

A Target Toy Department | Source: Target Corp.

The U.S. toy industry growth is showing no signs of slowing down.

Total U.S. sales increased 27% in the first four months of 2021, a $1.5 billion increase over the January-April period last year, according to The NPD Group. Tracking data for the period reveals that both unit sales and the average selling price increased to 17% and 9%, respectively.

“As we lap the lockdowns of 2020, the supercategories that had surging growth last year, like games and puzzles, appear to be slowing down,” says Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, U.S. Toys, The NPD Group. “However, it’s important to realize that sales are still strong for games and puzzles in 2021 which is reflected in the 2-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34%, the fastest growth compared to 2019 of all supercategories.”

Related: Everything Old Is Collectible Again

Classic brands are doing big business this year, with Pokémon, Barbie, Star Wars, L.O.L. Surprise!, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, NERF, LEGO Star Wars, and Funko Pop! amounting to a collective 48% year-to-date sales spike.

According to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, 10 of the 11 tracked toy supercategories hit double-digit growth this year.

Plush registered the highest growth this year, with a 44% increase over 2020 while outdoor and sports toys leads the charge as the biggest supercategory with $1.6 billion in sales this year.

The continued Pokémon craze drove the strategic trading cards category to the largest top dollar growth of the 96 classes tracked by NPD.

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.