Toy shoppers return to high street and out-of-town specialist retailers, says NPD

Published on: 1st September 2022

Parents continue to buy toys, but sales to grandparents and other relatives are down, data shows.

According to The NPD Group, which recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) to create a leading global technology, analytics and data provider, consumers are returning to specialist retailers including The Entertainer, Smyths, Hamleys and independent stores among others to shop for toys. The data shows these type of high street and out-of-town retailers are now the fastest growing retail channel for purchasing toys.

The NPD Group’s latest Consumer 360 Toys analysis shows that while the share of toys sold online remains higher than pre-Covid-19 levels back in 2019, purchases via the internet have declined -20% this year. In comparison, in-store buys have increased by +9%. NPD’s sales channel ‘Toy Specialists’ is now the joint largest channel along with online-only retailers, accounting for 30% of all toy sales by value so far this year (Year to Date to June 2022). Sales value has grown every month compared to the same period a year ago.

Melissa Symonds, executive director UK Toys at The NPD Group, said: “It’s great to see people returning to physical toy stores and especially to the Toy Specialists who are the experts in the category. There is nothing like the experience of seeing, hearing, and touching toys making it a fun shopping outing to visit a store and see what’s new in this highly innovative category. These retailers also have a wide choice offering shoppers the chance to discover something new and exciting along with the expertise of staff who spend all day among toys.”

Despite the cost of living challenges this year, the data indicates that parents remain dedicated to keeping their kids happy by buying the toys on their wish lists. Parents account for nearly half (47%) of all toys sold in the last 12 months, the same share as the previous year. They have been driving the return to the shops, purchasing 55% of their toy buys in brick-and-mortar retailers, up +8%. However, there has been a decline in the share of toys purchased by grandparents (-18%) and other family members (-5%) as inflation and concerns about upcoming bills hit their budgets and spending.

Melissa Symonds concluded: “With a squeeze in our household incomes reducing spending power, many consumers will be counting every penny. In previous recessions, we’ve seen that although parents continue to find the funds for the toys their children really want for Christmas and birthdays, other relatives such as grandparents cut back on their spending on toys. We’re already recording this trend in 2022 and would expect it to last well into the festive season. Toy retailers and manufacturers have experienced these circumstances before and will be planning how they respond in the run-up to the festive period.”


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