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Toys & Games

Star Wars, Barbie, and Hachimals Top Holiday Toys

While overall holiday sales were expected to increase just 3.4%, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that toy sales will grow 6.5% for the last six months of 2016.

The NRF points to games and puzzles as the fastest-growing category (up 16%), followed by dolls and action figures (12% each). While interest in family games like Hasbro’s Speak Out and Pie Face are one reason for the increase, the surge in adult games in a key reason for climbing sales.

Sales of collectibles in particular were up 64% to over $220 million—approximately 25% of those are blind bags (up 80%). At the other end of the price spectrum, higher-priced toys with tech elements such as drones and robots are expected to be the most popular presents. In particular, this expectation was born out with strong sales of high-ticket toys like Hatchimals and app-controlled Star Wars toys like Hasbro’s Smart R2-D2 and Sphero’s BB-8.

So what was actually on shelves? Panjiva, a company that tracks global shipments to the U.S. from more than 500,000 suppliers, put Barbie dolls and other goods as the top brand in stock. Star Wars came in second—the LEGO sets in particular saw a 550% increase in November imports versus last year. In contrast, Panjiva estimates that Spin Master produced up to 2.5 million Hachimals toys for the holiday season (or five times less the number of containers filled with imported Barbie products). Drones as a category were estimated to sell well; TLL‘s own informal holiday retail watch found that local New York stores were sold out of the toys by Christmas day.

According to Talkwalker, the top trending toys on social media this season were Hatchimals, Hot Wheels, Shopkins, and Tsum Tsum. Despite high sales, Star Wars toys lagged behind in social media mentions.

As the hottest toy this holiday season—Hachimals—sold out in stores nationwide, gift-givers looked to old favorites like LEGO, Barbie, Star Wars (Hasbro expects its licensed toys to bring in $500 million this season), and Pokémon (the new Sun and Moon titles were the top, fastest-selling games in Nintendo’s history in the U.S. and Europe) instead. Retailers noted that traditional toys and games in particular were aided by the out-of-stock phenomenon.


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