The COVID-19 pandemic brought nearly all non-essential industries to a grinding halt, but the toy industry actually saw its sales increase. The industry’s sales growth was fueled by parents’ need to keep their children calm and entertained as schools shutdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Lockdown Impact on Toy Sales
According to The NPD Group, a market research firm, U.S. toy sales saw a 11% increase during the first three quarters of 2020, hitting $13.7 billion. Many toy companies were hit by the worldwide lockdowns that led to long shipping delays, a backlog of customs inspections, warehouse closings and changing Amazon shipping policies to focus on essential items over non-essential ones.
This inability to meet demand resulted in a relatively flat first quarter 2020 sales. Mattel experienced a 14% decline in its growth, while Hasbro experienced a 7.5% drop. However, as parents sought to combat cabin fever, they used the U.S. government’s one-time stimulus payment to do some online shopping.
This resulted in a toy sales rebound over 15 weeks. Amazon’s Prime Day 2020 event, which took place in October after its typically-held July timeline was pushed back, saw a 54% increase over its 2019 event.
The NPD noted the most sought-after toys were puzzles (42%), sports and outdoor toys (31%) and building sets (30%). The most commonly purchased toys included Barbie, Disney’s Frozen, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, L.O.L Surprise!, Marvel, Nerf, P.A.W. Patrol, Pokémon and Star Wars.
Many factors could affect the toy industry’s growth in the 2021 year, including additional lockdowns, unemployment, increase in household debt, and lack of federal financial help. Although the third quarter resulted in both Hasbro and Mattel’s e-commerce sales increasing nearly 50 percent, time will tell if the increase will continue or peter out.