2021, a record year for the toy market despite supply difficulties

Sales reached 3.7 billion euros last year. France becomes the 2nd toy market in Europe behind Germany.

More fear than harm. From the summer of 2021, toy manufacturers and distributors had been worried about a risk of shortages on the shelves as Christmas approached, in a context of disorganized global supply chains. The end of the year is crucial for the sector, it is at this time that 53% of sales for the year are concluded. The Cassandres, for once, will not have been right. In 2021, toy sales increased by 3% compared to 2020 and reached a record level of 3.7 billion euros. At this level, France ranks second among European countries that buy the most toys, behind the United Kingdom. “After a year without growth in 2020, [pénalisée par la fermeture des magasins de jouets plusieurs mois durant], this rebound proves the importance that consumers of all ages attach to games and toys, underlines Frédérique Tutt, toy expert at NPD. Licensing, adult toys and collections carried the market.

Containments, paradoxically, are favorable to this market when stores are not closed. Parents buy things to occupy their children at home, and adults value games intended for them more. The start of 2021, when the curfew was in effect and telework strongly recommended, was therefore very dynamic for the sector with sales up 4% at the end of September. The Christmas season was a little more sluggish (+1%). The most popular toys were games and puzzles (+12%), driven by the meteoric rise in strategic cards such as Pokemon cards, stuffed animals (+12%), which are catching up after a poor year in 2020, and figurines action (+8%). Playmobile Specials Plus Small Figures, Lunii’s Story Factory and Mattel’s Barbie Color Reveal were the three top-selling toys.

Few breaks

Alerted by manufacturers and distributors to possible shortages, consumers have been doing their Christmas shopping much earlier than usual. “The months of October and November were very strong,” December less, specifies Frédérique Tutt. In the end, shortages remained limited, and had no effect on sales. “The sector has coordinated and organized itself to minimize the effect of supply difficulties, explains Florent Leroux, resident of the Federation of Toys-Children’s Industries (FJP). We resorted to air freight, anticipated, and coordinated with distributors to deliver them anyway, sometimes in multiple stages.“.

2021 will have been the year of the revenge of the stores. Toy specialists, which account for a third of the market, saw their sales increase by 9% compared to 2020. Sales, on the other hand, fell by 1% in hypermarkets, and even by 7% compared to 2019. on the internet fell slightly but remained very strong (+32%) compared to 2019. Specialized networks with stores, which went digital at high speed in 2020, contributed to this.

2022 promises to be a little more difficult for the toy sector. The explosion in production and transport costs had little or no effect on toy prices in 2021. But it will eventually have an impact in 2022. It will surely weigh on margins and perhaps on sales. “Manufacturer innovation and licensing will support the market, explains Frédérique Tutt. But you have to pedal all the faster as the birth rate is constantly falling“. INSEE, in fact, has 15,000 to 20,000 fewer children each year, who are fewer small customers for manufacturers and distributors.

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