Feb 8, 2020 - Economy & Business

The great American toy slump

A pile of plush toys
Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance/Getty Images

Americans are buying fewer toys in the post-Toys "R" Us era.

The big picture: As we've reported, the demise of the toy giant kicked off a war among U.S. retail titans Amazon, Target and Walmart to vacuum up its toy sales. But the end of Toys "R" Us dealt the multibillion-dollar American toy market a blow that it still hasn't recovered from.

  • Target and Walmart both added floor space for toys. And Target partnered with Disney to sell exclusive products in its stores.
  • Amazon attempted to dominate the online sale of toys. Its products topped 95% of online search results for toys in 2019, according to the research firm Gartner L2.

But all that wasn't enough to revive the toy market.

  • Toy sales fell 4% between 2018 and 2019, according to research from the NPD Group, cited by Retail Dive.
  • American retailers also sold fewer toys during the 2019 holiday season. That might be partially explained by the fact that last year's peak holiday shopping season — the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas — was unusually short, per NPD.

The bottom line: The American toy industry is likely to eventually bounce back, but it's a testament to the ubiquitousness of Toys "R" Us that it has temporarily dragged down the entire market.

Go deeper: The Toys "R" Us blame game

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