U.S. toy industry dollar sales increased +19% from January-June 2021, growing +$1.7B, to $11.0B in sales, according to The NPD Group. Unit sales increased +13% during the time period continuing the reversal in trend from the prior two years. Average Selling Price (ASP) increased +6% to $10.51; however, growth slowed compared to last year at this time. From 2018 to 2021 the industry experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% in both dollars and ASP, clearly driven by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021. However, the CAGR for units was flat over that period.

Ten of the eleven supercategories tracked by NPD had growth in 2021. Outdoor & Sports Toys continues to be the largest supercategory with $2.9 billion in sales, more than double the size of the second largest supercategory, Games/Puzzles. Outdoor & Sports Toys also had the largest dollar gain of $280 million while Plush had the fastest dollar growth versus 2020 of 39%. The only absolute dollar declines versus 2020 came from Arts and Crafts which declined -1%. This was driven by Craft Kits which makes up 42% of the supercategory. The remaining classes within Arts & Crafts all experienced growth during the first half of the year.

“The continued exceptional growth in Outdoor & Sports Toys was partially driven by water-related toys as consumers looked to beat the heat,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, U.S. Toys, The NPD Group. “With the vaccine still not available for kids under 12, ‘safely social toys’, like Playground Equipment and Skates/Skateboards/Scooters also continued to grow.”

Compared to 2019, all supercategories posted a positive 2-year CAGR. Looking at other compound annual growth rates compared to 2019, Games/Puzzles had the fastest growth of 31% followed by Building Sets and Explorative & Other Toys.

Pokémon was the #1 property and top growth property during the first 6-months of the year and Strategic Trading Card Games was the top dollar growth class among all 96 classes tracked by NPD in toys. Rounding out the top ten properties were Pokémon, Barbie, Star Wars, L.O.L. Surprise!, Fisher-Price, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, Nerf, and LEGO Star Wars—all posting growth to last year.

“Nostalgia has been a key driver of growth over the last 18 months. Consumers have looked to fill the isolation with memories of happier times in their lives,” said Lennett. “Adult males drove growth with nostalgic brands like Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, and the National Football League in the collectible space and parents and grandparents leaned heavily on the brands that they have known and loved through multiple generations.”

“The two stimulus checks had a profound effect on Q1’21. However, in the back half of the year, the toy industry should see some benefit from the child tax credit,” added Lennett. “In fact, in the week that the first check hit bank accounts, the toy industry grew 17%**.”