“The good news is that as the economy improves, the UK toys market is well positioned for a rapid recovery. As it is less reliant on toy sales tied to special occasions, it reacts well when a new toy fad comes along – for instance, a strong movie license or collectibles. As people feel more confident about the economy, they’ll go back to adding these lower priced toys to their weekly supermarket shop, or they’ll pay more visits to their local toy specialist.”
The bright spots in 2013 were toys in the youth electronics and games & puzzles categories. Furby experienced a 66% increase in sales compared to 2012, and was the best-selling toy for the year. Other strong performers include Barbie, Lego Friends and Monster High for girls, adding £13m of sales versus their 2012 performance; Playmobil and Ninja Turtles for boys delivering a retail value growth of £20m; and Peppa Pig, Mickey & Friends, Little Tikes and new entry Doc McStuffins for pre-schoolers, generating in excess of £21m extra sales at retail.
Absence of a blockbuster movie hit licensing sales
Last year’s toy market performance also highlights its reliance on licenses as more than a quarter of the business is linked to a character from a TV series, movie or increasingly internet licenses such as Moshi Monsters or Angry Birds. In 2013, the absence of a strong blockbuster movie and the lack of leading new entertainment properties amounted to a loss of £44m in overall licensing revenue compared to 2012.
Natasha Crookes, director of the British Toy & Hobby Association, said: “The toy industry performance in 2013 was below analyst expectations despite a last minute surge in sales. Given the reasons for this slight decline, the trade remains confident the toy market has a good growth potential over the coming years and is really keen to start afresh in 2014. The toy sector is fast-moving and innovative, launching thousands of new products to market every year. The industry will be showcasing its large number of new and exciting concepts at Toy Fair which will help to drive growth in 2014.”