News Report Claims Toy Sales Are Down (With Evidence That Action Figures, Dolls, and Electronics Are on the Rise)

Confusing title, right?

I know, I felt the same way.

This article is somewhat of a response piece, based partly on evidence and partly on my opinions. Since the closure of Toys R Us, I’ve seen one consistent thing rattling around news and financial websites. Articles and headlines that begin something like this:

“Toy industry sales broke 4-year growth streak, fell 2% in 2018, thanks to Toys R Us closure”

“Thanks to Toys R Us closure”. Wow–passive aggressive much?

This is the title of an article published by CNBC just two days ago, and it’s not the only one out there. Since November 2018, there has been this constant ramp up of impending disasters and doom from the financial industry, lamenting the loss of Toys R Us. Its absence became the Toypocalypse, and in spite of Target, Walmart, Kohls, and even Ross having hundreds of toys on their shelves (Ross actually got a huge inventory stock from shut down Toys R Us stores), it just wasn’t enough to keep websites from crying about the plummeting toy industry.

I think it’s a complete detriment that ‘toys’ are lumped into one huge category when it comes to discussing the fiscal impact for all of 2018. From beginning to end, this includes sales from spring, summer, and the holiday season. It also includes everything from dolls/action figures to youth electronics (which I can only assume means video games and consoles too), arts and crafts, baby/infant toys, and outdoor play things.

That is too broad of data.

As someone who is immersed in the toy collecting world and the toy news reporting world, I can say with absolutely confidence that the love for action figures and ‘doll’ like figures is strong right now. And CNBC’s article admits that! It whines and bemoans the ‘crash’ of the toy industry, then points out that the things people actually want to collect and play with are on the rise in terms of sales!

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First off, I have to somewhat resent to usage of ‘All Other Toys’ on the chart, because that doesn’t mean anything without examples. Games and puzzles is at -1%, which is such an insignificant loss it’s comical. Baby toys need to be recycled, reused, and given as hand me downs anyway, if you ask me. The same can be said about plush. Therefore, the only surprise for me on this list is the -5% ‘Building Set’ loss, which I can only guess means Legos and other brands of bricks.

Another question I have for reports like these is this: where is all this data coming from? Is this simply retail, like Target, Walmart and the rest? Do online retailers like Amazon or Super 7 come into play with these results? Are more ‘Collectible’ action figures like those from McFarlane or NECA Toys figure into these results when discussing? I can guarantee that customs and bootlegs from third party or tiny sites don’t even come close to making an impact here.

The article continues to contradict itself with statements such as:

“After the liquidation announcement of Toys‟R”Us last year, there was a great deal of speculation about what would happen to the industry, with some predicting double-digit declines,” Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor at NPD Group, said in a statement.

Lennett called the 2 percent decline a “solid performance” considering how much the landscape has changed in the last year. Toys R Us was estimated to account for 10 to 15 percent of all toy sales prior to its closure in June.

See? We’re fine.

So, while we’re kvetching that there are “fewer toys on the shelves” from the loss of Toys R Us (which of course, is true. The stores are gone. That’s a huge impact), let’s not convince ourselves that they were the only toy outlet.  Again, sales of action figures, dolls and arts and crafts grew during the year, fueled by sales of MGA Entertainment’s LOL Surprise dolls, Hasbro’s Marvel toys and Mattel’s Barbie.

This is a direct quote from the article that just said everything is crashing.

And remember; as we reported just the other day, there is a new group forming called Tru Kids, created by former Toys R Us executives. Do you think they’ll be able to restock the shelves and feed our nostalgia?

Or should we hunt in the wild for our grail items somewhere else?

Let Toy Wizards know your thoughts in the comments and get the conversation going!


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