Toy sales flat in main European markets in 2013

Sales of traditional toys in the industry’s five largest European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) were flat in 2013, according to information from the NPD Group. While sales grew in France (+0.7%), Germany (+1.5%) and Spain (+0.3%), they fell in both Italy (-3.3%) and the UK (-1%). Other European countries such as Belgium, Poland and Portugal performed well (growth of 2%, 3% and 6% respectively).

Toy sales in the five main markets totalled approximately €11.4 billion in 2013, according to NPD calculations. The UK was the largest market last year, followed by France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

According to NPD, the fact that sales remained flat can be attributed to the global economic situation, a drop in the number of individual toys purchased, the introduction of fewer licensed toys and the fact that blockbuster movies were not as successful as in previous years.

Furby Boom from Hasbro was the favourite toy in four out of the five main markets last year with only France having a different top selling toy: Leapfrog’s Storio. The best performing toy categories in 2013 were youth electronics (+22%), building sets (+5%) and infant/preschool toys (+2%). However, action toys (-15%), dolls (-5%) and vehicles (-3%) did not do so well.

NPD’s data once again confirms that the toy business is highly seasonal with consumers making the majority of toy purchases in the Christmas period. While this is particularly the case in Spain, with over 50% of all toy purchases made during this period, the same also applies to France (36.5%), Germany (28.2%), Italy (36.7%) and the UK (25.7%).

Toys are increasingly being purchased online, according to NPD: over one in every five toys was bought online in the five major markets in 2013. This is a 19% increase on 2012.

According to the NPD Group, 2014 looks more promising for Europe’s five largest toy markets and growth of 1% to 2% is expected. NPD predicts that this growth will be boosted by new, low-cost collectibles such as LEGO mini figures and World Cup cards, the ever-increasing popularity of technology and connected toys, and strong licensing linked to movies such as Transformers, Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Peppa Pig, for example.

This article is based on information provided by the NPD Group.