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

Not all was well in Toy Land in 2018.

In the U.S., customers spent $21.6 billion on toys last year[1], less than the $22 billion shelled out for action figures, dolls and games in 2017, according to market researcher NPD Group.

“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.

While a number of retailers, including Target, Walmart and even drug stores, expanded their toy sections this past holiday season, there were far fewer shelves showcasing toys in 2018 than in years prior.

Nostalgia over the loss of Toys R Us boosted toy sales in the beginning of the year, but it wasn’t enough to fuel full-year sales. The loss of shelf space disproportionately affected items like plush toys, building sets and sports toys during the year.

However, sales of action figures, dolls and arts and crafts grew during the year, fueled by sales of LOL Surprise dolls, Marvel toys and Barbie, NPD said.

While Toys R Us stores have been dark for months, a group of former Toys R Us executives have reportedly been reaching out to toy manufacturers to create a comeback plan for the toy brand[2], according to the New York Post.