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U.S. & Canada

Canadian Licensed Retail Sales Lag Behind U.S. in Growth; Bright Spots Emerge Up North

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Licensed retail sales in the U.S. and Canada grew a combined 1.4% in 2018, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey.

In the U.S., a relatively dampened growth rate of 1.4% nevertheless propelled the territory to hit the $100 billion licensed retail sales mark for the first time. This last year had the slowest rate ever recorded since TLL began tracking country-specific licensed sales in 2011.

Up north, Canada lagged slightly behind with 1.3% growth, down from 3.9% in the previous year, to reach $10 billion in 2018. The territory is actually in an upswing compared to the last five years of growth; licensed retail sales only grew 8.3% since 2011 (translating to just under $770 million, compared to $16 billion in total licensed sales growth in the U.S.).

We’ve just updated the Licensing Data Bank with country-specific breakdowns of licensed retail sales in the U.S. and Canada by the five major property types and eight major product categories from 2011–2018.

Click here to access the index (subscription required).

Typical of a smaller market, Canada’s share of all licensed retail sales is more dependent on entertainment/character properties than the U.S. (12.6% share in Canada versus 11.7% share in the U.S.), which is the world’s largest market for licensed retail sales.

Despite a fall-off in entertainment/character sales in the U.S. (-1.9%), the Canadian market actually grew 4.7% in 2018. This is in part because many aggravating factors for sales based on the property type down south, such as decreased toy sales attributed to the closure of Toys”R”Us in the U.S., were actually reversed in Canada. For example, sales of licensed toys in the U.S. were down by -1.5%, while they were up 1.8% in Canada.

Another key growth spot pushing entertainment/character brand-based licensing up in Canada was the gifts/novelties segment, which jumped an impressive 5.2% in 2018 after years of declines.

Likewise, while the U.S. observed a slowdown in the major property types of fashion (1.5%, compared to 11.7% growth from 2015–2017) and corporate/trademark brands (2.0% versus 5.6%), Canada was on track with 2.1% and 3.1% growth, respectively.

In part, this shift occured because of strong growth in apparel, accessories, and footwear (3.0% in Canada versus 1.9% in the U.S.) as well as food and beverages (2.9% versus 2.2%). Other strong product categories for the country include publishing (2.4%) and health & beauty aids (2.2%).

Licensed Retail Sales by Property Type, U.S. & Canada, 2018
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
(Figures in Millions)
U.S. & Canada$13,043$16,138$19,979$29,767$5,935$25,626$110,488

Share of Licensed Retail Sales by Property Type, U.S. & Canada, 2018
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
U.S. & Canada11.8%14.6%18.1%26.9%5.4%23.2%100.0%

Growth of Licensed Retail Sales by Property Type, U.S. & Canada, 2017–2018
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
U.S. & Canada-1.3%1.4%1.6%2.1%1.3%1.8%1.4%


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