But can the momentum be maintained?

If you’re looking for a bright spot in the first quarter economy, toys might be the answer. Toy industry sales increased by 4% globally and 7.6% in the U.S. (to $3.6 billion) according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

The company says they key driver in the increased sales was the coronavirus-caused school closures, resulting in consumers grabbing games and puzzles (55% growth), outdoor & sports toys (up 22%) , building sets (up 20%), and arts & crafts (up 13%).

Plus, NPD reports in the five weeks from March 15 to April 18 toy sales grew 19% vs. 1% growth in the first 10 weeks of the year. Games and puzzles (family board/action games, adult puzzles, card games, and children’s games) and outdoor and sports toys, (playground equipment, skates/skateboards/scooters, and pools) contributed to 77% of the growth in those five weeks. Building sets and arts and crafts were responsible for 23% of the sales increase.

If the stay-at-home policies continue NPD’s toys industry advisor expects outdoor and sports toys to be the “supercategory”.

Video games are also hot, reports Statista, citing NPD’s research. Normally video games experience a “post-holiday sales slump” in March, but this year, COVID-19’s stay-at-home policies, drove sales of $1.6 billion in sales of video game hardware, software, accessories and game cards amounted in March 2020—the highest March figure since 2008.

The Marketing Insider blog at MediaPost injects a note of caution, however. Columnist Maria Bailey warns as stores begin to open and the holiday season approaches, toy stores will have to deal with “the absence of children on Mom’s next shopping trip.” Bailey cites a survey showing 88% of moms don’t intend to take their kids into stores when they reopen. This leads to the elimination of what Bailey calls “the nag factor,” (“buy me this please”) resulting in lower sales. Also lost, she says, is moms knowing what their kids want.

Moms also were concerned about the uncertainty of the economy and possible loss of income, which would likely lead to decreased toy sales.

Bailey offers some interesting solutions to stave off these challenges. If you’re in the toy business, you’ll want to read her blog.

Family games stock photo by nd3000/Shutterstock