Despite Massive Recalls, 90% Of Households Bought Toys

Barbie RecallLead-tainted, toxic toys may have dominated last year's headlines, but a new report from NPD Group says 2% more Americans bought toys in 2007 than in the prior year.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based market researcher says 107 million households bought toys in 2007-that's roughly nine out of 10 households, making it one of the most widely penetrated industries--up from 105 million in 2006. Dollar sales at brick-and-mortar stores declined a bit, however, from $21.1 billion in 2006 to $20.5 billion in 2007. That translates into an average toy budget of $191, compared to an average of $201 in 2006.

"Even though 2007 was a tough year for the U.S. toy industry," the report says, "few industries are as widely penetrated in the lives of U.S. families as are toys."

In households with littler kids, 6 and under, 100% made a toy purchase in 2007, with an average spending of $485. But even in households with no children under the age of 18, 88% still scored at least one toy, spending an average of $113.



Nor did the timing of last year's recalls--with many in the late summer--affect the predictability of sales. "We have seen no evidence of timing shift in purchasing," says Anita Frazier, industry analyst with NPD. Every year you can count on 50% of total annual sales occurring in the fourth quarter of the year due to holiday purchasing, and last year was no exception. Year-in, year-out, it's very steady from a seasonality standpoint."

Earlier this year, NPD, which reported total category spending at $22.6 billion, announced that strong sales in the action figures and accessories category (up 8%) and vehicles (up 6%) offset losses in infant/preschool and outdoor and sports toys (both down 5%) and sales of dolls, which fell 8%.

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