U.S. Toy Industry Grows its Sales by 3 Percent Mid-Way Through 2017, Reports The NPD Group

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NPD estimates 4.5 percent growth for the total industry to close out the year

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2017 may go down in history as the year of movie licensed toys, especially boys’ action.

The U.S. toy industry grew its dollar sales by 3 percent in the first half of 2017*, according to global information company The NPD Group. With about one-third of total annual sales typically occurring in the first half, NPD estimates that the industry will grow approximately 4.5 percent for the full year.

“The toy industry is off to a slower start in 2017 than last year, but much of it has to do with the fact that the industry is comparing against strong Star Wars movies sales from last year, as a result of the December 2015 release of Star Wars Episode 7. This comparison will go away starting in September, just in time for the next Force Friday event,” said Juli Lennett, senior vice president and U.S. toys industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The industry will need growth of around 5 percent in the second half of the year to reach NPD’s estimate, and I expect the box office to lead it there."

Six of the 11 supercategories posted gains, led by Games & Puzzles, Plush, and All Other Toys which includes fidget toys. Games & Puzzles grew the fastest at 24 percent, had the largest absolute dollar growth at $143 million, and represented over 40 percent of total toy industry gains. Within Games, adult games grew the fastest at 267 percent. Strategic trading card games made up about half the dollar growth, led by Pokémon – which was the number-one property as well as growth property for the total toy industry, up 60 percent compared to last year. Plush sales grew by 13 percent, driven undoubtedly by Hatchimals. Thanks to fidget toys, All Other Toys grew its sales by 9 percent.

Illustrating the box office effect, declines in Building Sets and Action Figures can be linked to last year’s movie tie-ins, including Star Wars, Batman v Superman, and Ninja Turtles, among others. The Vehicles supercategory is starting to kick into higher gear with the recent, June release of Cars The Movie. The two strongest growth categories, Radio/Remote Control and Mini Vehicles, are both getting a lift from the new movie.

In terms of other first half highlights, the $819 million collectibles market continued on its growth trajectory, with dollar sales up 21 percent mid-year. The growth has softened in the past two months, as the trend exploded in 2016. Sales of blind packs, a subset of collectibles, grew by 48 percent year-to-date.

“2017 may go down in history as the year of movie licensed toys, especially boys’ action,” said Lennett. “Batman continues to perform, Cars is just getting started, as are Transformers and Spider-Man. Several other movies will be released later this year, including the much anticipated Star Wars Episode 8, which will help propel growth in the fourth quarter.”

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, January-June 2017
Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service. NPD’s current estimate is that the Retail Tracking Service represents approximately 80 percent of the U.S. retail market for Toys.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD is the leading global provider of market information and business solutions covering brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and emerging channels in more than 20 industries. We combine our unique data assets with analytic solutions to help our clients measure performance, predict trends, and improve results, advising them to help drive successful growth. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, travel retail, games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com and npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdtoys

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Marissa Guyduy
The NPD Group
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