19 UK Toy Industry Statistics and Trends

In 2017, total toy sales in the United Kingdom declined by 2.8% from the following year. The market was still valued at GBP 3.4 billion. Several factors are believed to be contributing to this decline, from the impact of Brexit to an increase in the number of toy lines that are under-performing.

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) is also very concerned about the presence of counterfeit toys flooding the UK market and disrupting revenues and performance. Over GBP 400 million worth of sales is believed to have been lost in 2017 because of the presence of counterfeit toys.

There are some bright spots for the industry to find, however, even in this time of decline. The sales of collectable-quality toys rose by 17%, with Fingerlings being a dominant toy in this segment. Collectables were responsible for 9% of the overall UK toy market in 2017 and 19% of all toy units that were sold.

Important UK Toy Industry Statistics

#1. Parents in the UK are shifting their views of using toys and electronic screens for entertainment. 75% of parents that were surveyed at the BTHA Toy Fair said that excessive screen time would make their children less sociable, while 65% said that their children would be less active. (BTHA)

#2. 63% of parents said that they felt like unstructured traditional play with toys was important for the development of their child. (BTHA)

#3. 37% of parents in the UK said that their children are spending less time with traditional toys in 2017 compared to the amount of play time found in the year before. (BTHA)

#4. 84% of parents said that they are placing limits on the amount of screen time that their children receive every day. (BTHA)

#5. Although the value of the UK toy market decreased in 2017, it is much higher than it was in 2011. There are also more firms operating within this market, rising from 500 enterprises to 564 enterprises. (Statista)

#6. The turnover of toys and games manufacturing in the United Kingdom reached GBP 469 million in 2015. (Statista)

#7. In 2010, GBP 16.5 billion was spent on games, toys, and hobbies. In 2016, GBP 21.83 billion was spent on these items. (Statista)

#8. Toy retailing in the UK generates GBP 2 billion in revenues to support local economies. From 2013 to 2018, the annual growth within this segment of the market has been an average of 1.3%. (IBIS World)

#9. There are 600+ retailers currently operating within the sales chain of the UK toy industry. About 13,000 people are directly employed because of this segment of the industry. (IBIS World)

#10. On average, about GBP 350 is spend on each child, between the ages of 0 to 9, for new toys over the course of a year. The average price of a new toy that is purchased is GBP 8.95. (NPD Group)

#11. At GBP 3.4 billion in revenues in 2017, the United Kingdom is the 4th-largest market for toys in the world today. Despite the declines experienced, the growth rates in 2016 outpaced what France and the United States were able to achieve in their toy industries. (NPD Group)

#12. 36% of the toy sales which occur in the United Kingdom are online sales. Click and collect sales have been increasing at a rate of 14% per year, which indicates physical store locations are still important for the industry as well. (NPD Group)

#13. 50% of the sales which occur within the UK toy industry each year happen within the 8 weeks before the Christmas holiday. (Toy Retailers’ Association)

#14. 99% of the companies which are active in the toy sector in Europe are considered SMEs. 88% of the companies are considered to be micro-enterprises, employing 10 or fewer people. (BTHA)

#15. In the EU-28, there are about 220,000 people currently employed by the toy industry. The largest share of these opportunities are located in the UK. (BTHA)

#16. 60% of the toys which are found in the UK industry are newly developed products each year. On any given year, 90% of the toy manufacturers will put at least one new product on the market, compared to the global industry average of 40%. (BTHA)

#17. Over 400 million units are sold by the UK toy industry each year. (BTHA)

#18. 72% of parents say that the quality of the toy is a key determining factor in whether they will make a purchase or not. 48% of parents say that they look at the ratings of a toy or reviews of it online. (Brand View)

#19. Negative reviews have a direct impact on toy sales that occur online. 51% of parents say trying to find a “good” toy online is a key frustration for them while they’re shopping. (Brand View)

UK Toy Industry Trends and Analysis

There are several uncertainties which are having a negative impact on the UK toy industry. From Brexit to counterfeit toys coming in from the Asia-Pacific region, the industry is struggling to find secure footing at the moment. Although the trend for the past decade has been positive, from 2015 to 2018, there have been segments which have struggled to perform.

Because of these issues, the current 5-year forecast for the UK toy industry shows an expected average decline of 0.2%.

Certain influences in the toy market, such as the development of new movie/toy franchises, could change this negative forecast. Many of the franchises that were expected to generate positive gains, especially from Disney, have failed to live up to expectations. Combined with the growth in electronics, gaming consoles, and mobile devices, even parents who limit screen time are unable to provide a big boost to the industry.

Toys are always going to be around. The future of this industry is secure. It is the value of the industry and its economic contribution that will be called into question over the next 5 to 10 years.