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Toy sales grow over four years despite 2023 dip

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The U.S. toy retail market is steadily growing, with dollar sales rising by an average of 6% each year since 2019 according to new data.

Despite a 8% dollar sales decrease in 2023, dollar sales increased 17% in 2020, 16% in 2021, and 1% in 2020, according to Circana. The industry has experienced an overall $5.7 billion increase in sales since 2019, driven by average selling price (ASP) growth. 

Over the past four years, unit sales increased by 1% in 2020 and 13% in 2021, then fell by 2% and 8% in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

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Toy industry graphic
Graphic courtesy of Circana.
Toy industry graphic
Graphic courtesy of Circana.

“While 2023 was a challenging year for the U.S. toy industry, the four-year compound annual growth rate remains positive,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and toy industry advisor at Circana. “Economic challenges have impacted overall consumer behavior, but let’s not overlook the fact that we have seen an influx of new consumers over the past few years. Keeping these consumers interested with new and exciting products is important for driving future growth.”

Within Circana’s toy “supercategories,” just three of the 11 experienced dollar sales growth in 2023. Building sets had the most significant dollar gain of $220 million and the fastest growth, with Lego Icons, Lego Disney Classic, and Lego Speed Champions leading the growth in the category. 

Plush had the second-largest dollar gain, up $31 million, with Pokémon, Furby, Harry Potter, Snackles, Sesame Street and Cookeez Makery as the main drivers of growth.

Within vehicles, which grew $6 million, the largest increases came from Hot Wheels, The Fast and The Furious and Ninja Turtles. Outdoor and sports toys was the largest supercategory, however, the category faced the largest dollar decline, falling 16%. The top toy properties of 2023 included Pokémon, Barbie, Squishmallows, Star Wars, Marvel, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, LEGO Star Wars, Disney Princess and Melissa & Doug.

“Consumers will continue to face financial pressures in 2024, but they will not forgo the important toy buying occasions throughout the year,” added Lennett. “To succeed in 2024, a focus on marketing, seasonality, innovation, and value is critical.”

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