U.S. Toy Industry Shows a Softening Decline in 2024


U.S. toy retail sales performance results for January through April 2024 showed that toy industry dollar sales declined by 1% through April versus the same period in 2023, according to Circana. However, toy sales remain 38% ahead of 2019 levels, which equates to $2 billion.

Three of the 11 supercategories posted dollar growth including building sets, led by LEGO Icons; explorative toys, driven by Miniverse; and vehicles, driven by Monster Jam. Coinciding with seasonal boosts from Valentine’s Day and Easter, building sets, plush and outdoor and sports toys experienced year over year growth based on units sold, Circana states. 

Looking at the overall top-selling toys across the industry for the four-month period, Squishmallows dominated the list of the top 10 selling items, according to Circana. Trading cards led pack for the top 10 new items for 2024 through April, with a heavy emphasis on sports. 

Adults Participate in Toy Sales

The adult toy market has been a hot topic since the pandemic and continues to be an opportunistic area, according to Circana. Adults ages 18 and older contributed over $1.5 billion in sales in the first quarter alone – overtaking the 3- to 5-year-old segment to become the most important age group for the toy industry. In fact, 43% of adults purchased a toy for themselves in the past year, with the top reasons being for socialization, enjoyment and collecting.

“We are in a transformative period across retail sectors as consumers navigate high prices and manage their budgets, and while the toy industry is feeling the heat, it is ripe with opportunity,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and toy industry advisor at Circana, in a news release. “Tailwinds, like the growing adult toy market and spending power of higher income households and grandparents, drive positive trends. However, headwinds like rising household debt, slowing GDP growth, and fluctuating consumer confidence indicate potential challenges. By focusing on innovation and addressing diverse consumer needs, the industry can find the propensity to thrive despite an evolving economic environment.”