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Star Wars Blasts Toy Industry Growth to Century High

By Marcy Magiera

Toys based on movie, TV and other entertainment content licenses will push U.S. toy sales to growth of 7.0% in 2016, the market’s fastest growth this century, predicts The NPD Group.

U.S. toy sales grew a stellar 7.5% in the first half of this year, outpacing first-half growth in 2015, when full-year growth ended up at 6.7%, according to NPD. The biggest driver: Star Wars, with dollar sales for toys based on the franchise increasing nearly 200% for the year through June, representing $300 million in consumer sales. That compares to $700 million in Star Wars toy sales for all of 2015, NPD reported. “With two-thirds of toy sales yet to come in 2016, Star Wars could be even bigger this year than last,” said Juli Lennett, SVP & Toys Industry Analyst at NPD.

Rate of Growth in Toy Sales, U.S., 2014–2016
Note: *Forecast, based on 7.5% growth in the first half of the year
Data Source: The NPD Group
Year Rate of Growth
2014 4.0%
2015 6.7%
2016* 7.0%

“Toys with movie tie-ins will continue to contribute to the increase, stemming from those released both in 2015 and 2016. Television, over-the-top and other content providers, like YouTube and social media, also will continue to drive growth,” said Lennett.

Licensed toys for the past couple of years have outperformed the overall toy market in sales growth, driven by top franchises including Star Wars and Frozen, both Disney properties. In 2014, North American sales of licensed toys grew 7%, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey, compared to 4% toy growth overall. In 2015, licensed toy sales grew 8.1%, compared to 6.7% growth overall.

Top 10 U.S. Toy Properties, Based on Retail Sales, Jan.–Jun. 2016
Data Source:The NPD Group/Weekly Retail Tracking Service; 26 weeks ending Jul. 2, 2016.
Rank Property Licensor
1 Star Wars Disney/Lucasfilm
2 NERF Hasbro
3 Shopkins Moose Toys
4 Pokemon The Pokemon Co.
5 Barbie Mattel
6 LEGO Star Wars LEGO/Disney
7 Little Tikes MGA Entertainment
8 Frozen Disney
9 Hot Wheels Mattel
10 Minecraft Microsoft

Another top reason for industry growth this year is the soaring popularity of outdoor and sports toys, with the “super-category” responsible for almost one third of the industry’s growth this year, NPD reported.


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