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Licensed toys among winners in hard year for toy industry

Market experienced 6% drop in year on year sales in 2019, with total sales standing at £3.2 billion.

In line with many other sectors, the toy industry endured difficult trading conditions in 2019 with a 6% drop in year on year sales.

Total sales for the year were £3.2 billion, which still makes the UK toy market the largest in Europe, but with Germany now a very close second.

The results were revealed yesterday (January 21) on the opening day UK Toy Fair at London Olympia.

Despite the poor trading conditions the toy industry continued to innovate, with over 32,000 new products launched in 2019. Action figures achieved 9% growth, while board games and puzzles enjoyed a 1% increase. Collectables also continued to dominate the market, with sales equivalent to 21% of all toys sold.

Movies also played a big part in driving the market forward with 11% of total sales, up from 10% the previous year. However, they could not turn the market around at the back end of the year, as some key blockbuster titles were launched so close to Christmas.

Due to its late release, Frozen 2 is expected to power the market in the first six months of the year. For the rest of 2020 and in the absence of a new craze so far, it will be the toy brands themselves which are expected to be the big market drivers, as the market looks open for toy companies to make their mark.

“2019 was an unusual year by any standards,” said Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communications at the BTHA. “The ongoing question that is Brexit undoubtedly had a dampening effect on consumer confidence, while a general election in the middle of the busiest trading month of the year wasn’t helpful.”

Frederique Tutt, global toy analyst at the NPD Group, added: “We are entering a new era with many structural and economic changes ahead. The toy market is no exception to other retail sectors and is in a transition period, adjusting and recovering from a challenging 2019 while finding its path for the future.

“Despite strong leading brands and licences, toy sales declined -6% in 2019. Looking ahead, the industry is resourceful and knows that creativity, innovation and agility will play a key part in getting back to growth.”

Toy Fair continues today and Thursday January 23.

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