Room in Your Store for Backyard Toys?

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. families are turning to outdoor play to manage social isolation measures and the cancellation of schools and organized sports, show figures from NPD Group. Sales of outdoor and sports toys surged by $193 million during April, 2020, a 51 percent increase over the same time period last year.

According to The NPD Group, the outdoor and sports toys supercategory contributed 53 percent of the total growth in the toy industry during that time period. The total U.S. toy industry grew 22% in April.

“As families across the U.S. continue to grapple with school closures and the cancellation of organized sports, parents and children are turning to their backyards to keep active and busy,” said Juli Lennett, NPD’s toys industry advisor. “Across the country outdoor spaces are taking the place of daycares, schoolyards, and sports fields. As the warmer weather takes hold, these spaces are becoming increasingly important for families who are looking to take refuge outdoors while still adhering to widespread social isolation measures.”

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Even as lockdowns are lifted and more outdoor opportunities are available and some youth sports continue, it’s highly likely that many parents still will looking for safe, semi-isolated ways to play, at least some of the time, so the growth in backyard sports gear and toys sales easily could continue through the summer months.

“With summer quickly approaching and many parents expecting to continue working from home, keeping children busy will become even more of a priority,” said Lennett. “Parents will be looking for more solutions to keep their kids active and engaged during the summer months, which will undoubtedly bode well for the toy industry overall.”

The categories that have experience the strongest dollar gain so far include, including playground equipment (+81%), skate/skateboards/scooters (+107%), eide-ons (+78%), water/sand toys & accessories (+47%), temporary pools (+161%), and sports activities & games (+25%).