RIP, Toys R Us: Empathy Drives 7% Jump In Toy Sales

While the recent demise of Toys R Us has been biting into sales at individual toy companies, new research from the NPD Group shows a surprising 7% increase in toy sales, to $7.9 billion in the first half of the year.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company says that dolls were among the strongest performers, up 17%, led by Barbie, L.O.L. Surprise! and Hatchimals. And youth electronics toys jumped 43%, with Fingerlings, Star Wars and Tamagotchi leading the way.

By price category, lower-end toys — between $5 and $20 — did best, driven by toys from L.O.L. Surprise!, Barbie, Total Marvel, Fingerlings and Hatchimals. 

Plush toys and games and puzzles are the only categories to show declines from last year.



“It is likely that the Toys R Us news has kept toys top-of-mind for parents and grandparents when shopping for kids, benefiting both consumers and the industry,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and toy industry advisor. “I am also convinced that the strong toy industry growth so far this year has been at least partially supported by the empathy that people felt towards losing a store like Toys R Us. It brought about an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys overall.”

Sales also got a boost from strong movie releases, including Black Panther, generating plenty of interest in action figures. And Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is driving a resurgence in all things dinosaur. 

NPD says revenues from dinosaur, pony and unicorn themed toys jumped 77% so far this year, a trend likely to continue through the holiday season. Of the top 20 fastest-selling new items for June, it reports that six have either a dinosaur or unicorn theme, including Unicorn Sprinkler, Fingerlings Untamed Dino Stealth, Little Tikes Magical Unicorn Carriage and Jurassic World Roarivores assortment.

Last month, toy maker Mattel reported a 14% drop in its second-quarter sales to $840.7 million, compared to $974.5 million in the prior year, which it attributed in part to the Toys R Us liquidation. It says Barbie and Hot Wheels brands performed well, while Thomas & Friends and Fisher-Price disappointed. 

And Hasbro’s second-quarter sales slipped 7% to $904.5 million, from $972.5 million in 2017.

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