Early Forecast for Challenging 2010 Toy Season

Toy marketers are eyeing 2010 with caution. Who can blame them? Consumer spending was down in 2009 for nonessentials. The consumer electronics industry witnessed a 5% drop indicating that fewer adult toys were purchased. And children’s toys saw nearly a 1% drop in sales. The category went from $21.65 billion in 2008 sales to $21.47 billion in 2009.

But toy marketers are already gearing up for the next holiday season. A recent New York Times report emphasizes that 40% of  toy sales take place in November and December. These businesses must predict now what will be hot sellers later in the year. To begin, industry retailers expect only a slight improvement in sales this holiday season.

Here are the categories that are expected to do well:

  • Big-​name toy brands
  • Electronics
  • Classic games
  • Toys that can be enjoyed by all family members and serve as a substitute for a night out

Specific toys that looked promising at the recent American International Toy Fair include:

  • Mattel’s iXL – portable electronic device for the preschool set
  • Barbie Video Girl – with a live video camera on her necklace
  • Zhu Zhu Pets

There will be new entrants in the Web-​connected  segment despite the category’s 42% drop to a sales level of $522 million in 2009. This year companies like Wild Planet are introducing toys that allow kids to access new features or information online but to also play independently with the toy. Wild Planet is introducing Spy Trakr with a retail price tag of $120 and targets boys who enjoy espionage.

Overall, members of the toy industry expect “another cutthroat holiday season” because of continued rates of high unemployment and consumers' new fiscal caution. Marketing programs may make all the difference when it comes to turning a toy into a hot commodity this year.

[Sources: Wold, AAan. CE Retail Sales Fell 5%, TWICE, 2.10.10; Zimmerman, Ann. I Spy…a Market for Kids, Wall Street Journal, 2.10.10; Chang, Andrea. Buyers at New York Toy Fair, Los Angeles Times, 2.15.10]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.