23 January 2024:
Sustained growth in several key toy categories in 2023, despite challenging economic conditions – demonstrating resilience in the UK’s £3.5Bn toy market
- The UK toy market for 2023 was worth £3.5Bn, a decline of -5% in value, reflecting the broader impacts of the challenging UK economic conditions
- Over 63.5% of toys purchased in UK market were priced under £10
- Toys priced £15 to £20 gained the most sales
- Despite businesses facing inflation challenges, the average selling price of a toy only saw a small increase of +2%, reaching £10.79 compared to £10.54 in 2022
- Kidults (12+ Age Group) trend powers UK toy market contributing to 28.7% of market’s value, now worth £1Bn
- Toy Fair 2024 marks the show’s 70th anniversary
The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) and Circana, formerly known as The NPD Group, presented their annual industry insights at the 70th Toy Fair. Held at Olympia London from the 23rd to 25th January 2024, revealing positive trends in the UK toy market.
Despite the continued challenging economic conditions in the UK throughout 2023 reducing consumers discretionary spending power, the UK toy market demonstrated resilience, with a total value of £3.5Bn sales. Although the market experienced a decline of -5% in value, consumers’ demand for toys remains strong, with several toy categories achieving growth.
Interestingly, sales of toys priced £15 to £20 was the only price category gaining sales showing that consumers opt for more mid-point items in an economic downturn. However, over 63.5% of toy units sold are still priced under £10, contributing to a significant 28% of the market’s overall value. This signals that affordability and value for money are top priorities for consumers during these uncertain times.
Buoyed by top toy movie blockbusters, Licensed Toys continued to play a vital role in the market dynamics of 2023. The sector reported sustained growth for the fifth consecutive year, with market share increasing to 32% from 26% in 2020, surpassing last year’s highest-ever market share by 1%. Looking ahead, the market is expected to stabilise in 2024, with a greater emphasis on evergreen licenses and original toy brands. This shift presents an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase the strength of their own brands and foster innovation in the industry.
In 2023, Plush Toys, Games & Puzzles, and Building Sets experienced notable growth within the UK toy market. Plush Toys, which was a top three sales driver in the previous year, recorded an impressive 11% growth in 2023, making it the strongest performing category of 2023. The fastest gaining subclass within this category was Traditional Plush, further contributing to its success. Moreover, the Squishmallows Plush 8” Assortment emerged as the top-selling item in 2023, priced under £10 with an average selling price of £9.01. This highlights the enduring appeal of plush toys for UK consumers and emphasises the importance of accessible pricing in the toy market. Collectibles, another notable category, saw a positive increase of +3%, reaching a worth of £288 million. Collectibles accounted for 20.9% of the overall market, solidifying its significance among consumers.
Commenting on the key report findings and insights, Kerri Atherton, Head of Public Affairs at the BTHA, said: “With people facing difficult times financially, these figures are not surprising and are in common with many other similar consumer goods industries. The sustained growth in key categories, like Plush, Licensed toys, as well as growth in Games & Puzzles and Building Sets, illustrate continued strong demand for toys and illustrates the resilience of the UK toy market.
“Looking ahead to 2024, this shows there are opportunities for toy companies launching new and exciting products, with a focus on value for money and affordability a key trend.”
Another intriguing insight from the report reveals the exciting emergence of the consumer segment known as Kidults (12+ Age Group). Remarkably the Kidult toy market is now worth a staggering £1Bn having contributed 28.7% of the UK toy market’s value, experiencing an impressive 6% increase in growth in 2023. Notably, Collectibles, Building Sets, and Games & Puzzles are the key categories that resonate with this demographic, closely followed by Plush and Action Figures.
Offering insights behind the emerging Kidult trend, Melissa Symonds, Executive Director, UK Toys, Circana, adds, “The emergence of the Kidult category as a growing consumer segment, contributing to over a quarter of the toy market’s value, is an exciting development. The report findings suggest that amidst these challenging times, adults are seeking out escapism activities that tap into their childhood, evoking a more carefree time in their lives. This inclination towards toy categories that fulfill this need not only indulges their nostalgia but also positively contributes to their mental wellbeing.”
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Notes to Editors
Source: Circana / Retail Tracking Service / U.K. / Full Year 2023 vs 22
About Toy Fair
Toy Fair is the UK’s largest dedicated toy, game and hobby trade exhibition taking place at Olympia London. The event takes place over three days at the end of January each year and plays host to hundreds of exhibitors, from startups to some of the biggest toy companies, launching thousands of new toy lines.
Toy Fair 2024 takes place from Tuesday 23rd – Thursday 25th January. Press day is Tuesday 23rd January.
Please note the opening times are 09:00-18:00 Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th, and 09:00-16:30 Thursday 25th January.
About the BTHA
The British Toy & Hobby Association was established in 1944 to represent the interests of British toy manufacturers and to raise standards of practice in the industry. Today it has around 150 members ranging from international toy giants to small family-run businesses that together account for more than 80% of the UK toy market. Membership of the British Toy & Hobby Association shows the member’s commitment to adhere to the BTHA Code of Practice under the umbrella of the Lion Mark which includes rules covering ethical and safe manufacture of toys, toy safety, a ban on counterfeit goods, an assurance to market responsibly, a commitment to improving sustainability and a desire to promote the value of all play through support of the Make Time 2 Play campaign. Our members are manufacturers committed to making good quality toys in a responsible way. The BTHA also administers the Toy Trust – the industry’s charity.
Circana is the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. Through unparalleled technology, advanced analytics, cross-industry data and deep expertise, we provide clarity that helps almost 7,000 of the world’s leading brands and retailers take action and unlock business growth. We understand more about the complete consumer, the complete store, and the complete wallet so our clients can go beyond the data to apply insights, ignite innovation, meet consumer demand and outpace the competition. Learn more at www.circana.com.