The NPD Group: U.S. Families Turn to Toys, Games, & Other Play Products to Keep Busy at Home

play-at-home April 2, 2020 | According to the latest data from The NPD Group, U.S. families looking to balance screen-time with hands-on activities and education has driven sales across toys and games.

“Consumers have prepared for their family’s survival over an extended period by stocking up on the basic necessities, but as schools and workplaces closed, phase two of the big scramble began. U.S. parents loaded up on things to keep their kids occupied at home, help them navigate their new homeschooling situation, and to also be a source of entertainment for the whole family as we spend more time at home,” said Juli Lennett, NPD’s toys industry advisor.

Total toy sales in the U.S. grew by 26 percent in the week ending March 21. Sales of family, board, skill-and-action, card, and children’s games helped position games/puzzles (+228%) as the fastest-growing category. Building sets were up 76 percent and arts and crafts rose 70 percent, led by primary craft kits and reusable compounds. With warmer weather emerging, sales of outdoor and sports toys also saw an uptick of 20 percent.

Communities coming together while keeping their social distance has also led to growth of coloring and art supplies (+86%). Chalk sales grew by 56 percent, window/glass markers grew 146 percent, and color markers grew 81 percent. At-home learning and virtual art and drawing activities has also contributed to an 18 percent uptick in back-to-school supplies and increases in categories such as finger paints (+313%) and painting accessories (+111%), respectively. Triple-digit growth was also seen for crayons, children’s watercolors, and colored pencil sets.

“Amid the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, toys, games, and play products have become a source of comfort for American families working and learning at home allowing kids and parents to disconnect from their devices and reconnect with each other,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “This new sales data supports that families see toys and play truly as essential while underscoring the research behind The Genius of Play that every day − and especially in time of crisis − play is critical to our physical and emotional well-being at all ages.”