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Toy sales to increase in the UK thanks to tablets and Furby

Kids’ tablets, Furby and connected toys expected to perform well this Christmas


The NPD Group has unveiled its Christmas trends ahead of the peak season. The NPD Group’s research shows a significant increase in sales of products with a price tag of £50 or more – up 6% year to date (YTD) to mid-October 2013. Driven in large part by innovation and technology, this trend is expected to continue through to Christmas 2013. At the same time, sales of toys purchased for special occasions have increased 2% in the first half of 2013 (Jan – June), leading The NPD Group to predict a slight increase in toy spend this Christmas. Growth in these segments will help the toy sector end the year on a high note after what has been a flat 2013 so far in terms of overall industry sales.

Children’s tablets will become a £80 million market by the end of 2013
Having topped all Christmas wish lists in 2012, pre-school tablets are still going strong following the introduction of new models specifically designed for school age kids and featuring parental control functionalities. Frédérique Tutt Global Toy Industry Analyst with the NPD Group says: “We anticipate close to one million children’s tablets will be sold in the UK by the end of the year, making this a £80 million  market.”

Connected toys that link and share content with tablets such as Furby (Hasbro), robot dog Zoomer (Spin Master), or Teksta the robotic puppy (Character Group) are also increasingly popular. These products capitalise on children’s fascination for technology while managing to retain the traditional friendly dimension offered by traditional play patterns of dolls or pets.

Although the price tag for many of the most popular tech toys is over £50, value is of key importance to parents. Tutt explains: “In the UK, as in the rest of Europe, people are influenced by a difficult economic climate. Impulse toy buying for instance is experiencing significant declines. However in this environment of cautious consumerism our research shows that items with high price tags sell very well, especially good quality brands and innovative concepts.”

Big up to the classics
If high tech toys are set to be a big hit this Christmas, traditional categories are holding their own. Boosted by the Monster High (Mattel) phenomenon, sales of fashion dolls also recorded an 18% increase YTD (mid-October 2013). Elsewhere, classic board games and vehicles playsets also performed well, with increases of 9% and 12%, respectively.

The state of 2013 toy market
Between January and mid-October 2013, toy sales in the UK recorded a slight drop of 1% compared with the same period last year, which is due in large part to the combination of post-Olympics sales declines, poor outdoor toy sales due to bad weather in Spring, and the absence of a summer movie blockbuster. The UK’s performance is mirrored across the big European markets: Spain and Italy experienced similar slight declines, whilst France and Germany are showing low single-digit growth.

Tutt says: “Thanks to strong innovation in the high tech sector, as well as solid performances in more traditional segments, we expect the year to end on a positive note for the toy market. The increase of ‘special occasion’ toy spend combined with the growth of sales in the more expensive categories are great news for the sector, and should have a positive impact this Christmas. This is welcome news after a disappointing start to 2013.”

Top 10 toys (up to 12th October 2013)
VTech - Innotab Learnint Tablet
Hasbro - Furby Boom
Leapfrog - Leappad Ultra Learning Tablet
Lego - Lego Minifigures
Mattel - Monster High 13 Wishes Party Dolls
VTech - First Steps Babywalker
Mattel - Barbie Hair Artist Doll
Character Options - Teksta Puppy
Leapfrog - Leapfrog Explorer Game

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