U.S. retail sales of toys generated $25.1 billion in 2020, an increase of 16% or $3.5 billion, according to a report from The NPD Group.

The global research firm attributes much of the growth to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing consumer behaviors associated with the lockdowns and school closures. There were monetary factors as well. Consumers received Federal stimulus checks and had more to spend on toys since they weren’t spending on other types of entertainment.

The year started slow, with flat toy sales through mid-March 2020. Then NPD says, “widespread lockdown measures led to an abrupt increase in sales. This was further amplified by the distribution of stimulus checks beginning in April, resulting in the strongest month of growth for the year in May (+38%). Toy industry growth peaked again in October with an increase of 33% when the holiday season kicked off with Amazon Prime Day along with other retailer deals the same week.”

As consumers turned to online shopping, toy sales surged. In the first three quarters of 2020, the online channel gained 10 share points from its 23% share in 2019, leading to 75% growth in overall online toy sales from 2019 to 2020, according to The NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service/U.S. Plus, not only did pure-play online retailers do well, but brick-and-mortar retailers that offered BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) or curbside pickup options also outperformed.

The top-dollar growth subsegments in 2020 were fashion dolls and accessories, up 56%, sports toys (including skates, skateboards, and scooters), up 31%, games, up +29%, building sets, up 26%, and summer seasonal toys, up 24%.


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