UK toy enjoyed 5.9% increase in sales in 2015, The NPD Group reports


The UK toy market saw a 5.9% increase in sales in 2015, helping to keep it in the top spot as the largest toy market in Europe. The latest results were released today by the British Toy and Hobby Association and The NPD Group at this year’s Toy Fair at Olympia, London.

The British toy industry is now valued at £3.2bn, according to The NPD Group, an increase of £150m year-on-year.  Innovative ideas resulted in more than 58,000 new toys being launched in 2015,  equating to 31% of UK toy sales or £1 billion at retail.

Growth was driven partly by 2015 being a vintage year for strong film licenses with Minions, Avengers, Jurassic World and Star Wars all playing their part. In fact, last year saw the global cinema box office revenue break the £26.8bn mark, making 2015 the highest earning year in movie history.  This box office success drove movie-related toy sales up 27% (+89% since 2013). The increase also includes the seemingly never ending success of Frozen which made it the number one toy licence again in 2015.

On average last year 38 toys per child were purchased, with 11 of these being Christmas gifts and stocking fillers so it is unsurprising that December proved to be, as ever, a massive month for toys, accounting for 26% of annual sales. Some retailers reported late buying patterns with shoppers leaving purchases until the last minute. This resulted in a few shortages of popular toys as it becomes ever harder to predict stock level as Christmas shopping patterns change.

The strongest sectors for growth in 2015 were action figures (up 20%), building sets (up 14%) and plush (up 14%). The best-selling toy in the UK in 2015 was LEGO’s Mini Figures.

“What a great year 2015 was for the UK toy industry. Some highly creative partnerships with major film properties were a significant driver of growth, but so too was the resurgence of traditional toys such as building sets and plush. It’s fantastic to see the innovation of the industry resulting in market growth and with more than a third of last year’s value driven by new product launches it goes to show how much our industry reinvents itself each year to keep toys and games interesting to children and families. Toy Fair is the perfect place to see all types of toys together under one roof and to start the process of picking the winners for 2016”, commented Natasha Crookes, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA).

Frederique Tutt, global toy industry analyst at The NPD Group, saidd: “What is interesting about the 2015 performance is the lasting endurance of traditional toys such as building sets and action figures. It’s also great to see the variety in the toy industry where a fun game like Pie Face went viral on the internet, alongside the increasing popularity of traditional collectables and the launch of exciting new toys from the movies – which included some of the best-sellers of the year.”