UK toy industry resists struggling economy

Published on: January 23rd, 2013

Market statistics have shown the UK toy industry standing firm in 2012 in the face of poor retail performance overall and in comparison with like for like industry sectors.

Figures from global information company, The NPD Group, show UK toy sales dropped by just one per cent in value throughout 2012. The UK toy market is now valued at £2.94 billion. It remains the largest toy industry in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. The figures compare favourably with overall entertainment industry sales, which declined by 12% and in light of the difficult trading conditions for retailers in 2012.

In addition, the UK toy industry reported a leap in year on year sales of 65% in week 52 of 2012. This makes 2012 the latest Christmas on record as far as toy sales are concerned, making it increasingly difficult for manufacturers and retailers to ensure they have the stock requirements for consumers to be able to buy the toys they want at Christmas. Despite the difficulties of consumers shopping later each year the December (+4%) and week 52 (+65%) figures helped the industry to finish the year just 1% down across the full year.

The UK toy industry is less reliant on Christmas than many other countries with just 23% of overall sales made in December. Britons continue to buy toys throughout the year, making the UK less seasonally-reliant and more stable than in other parts of the world.

A total of more than 423 million toys were sold during 2012. Of the ten super categories tracked by The NPD Group, four enjoyed growth in the last 12 months. The fastest growing are Building Sets and Dolls, both of which rose by 11% in sales. Sales of Games/Puzzles and Infant/Pre-school Toys both rose by 3%.

Building sets have been a strong category over the last few years and in 2012 the dolls category enjoyed the same success. The rise in doll sales is indicative of the success story of the girls’ category, which has gone from strength to strength in recent years and is now growing faster than ‘boys’ toys. The innovation in ‘girls’ toys has kept girls playing with toys to an older age in 2012 than was seen in previous years. Girls’ toys are now accountable for 47% of the market compared to 53% for boys. In 2011, the split was girls 45% and boys 55%.

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