UK toy sales ‘to surge to record £3.3bn’ despite economic uncertainty

Toy sales in the UK are forecast to soar to a record high of more than £3.3bn this year, with Christmas gifts accounting for a third, according to industry figures.

An estimated £1.1bn will be spent on gifts for the festive season – with an average of £105 spent on younger children – according to an analysis for the UK’s leading toy and games retailers. A record 400m toys are forecast to be sold in 2016, reports The Guardian.

Despite the ongoing squeeze on household incomes and economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote, the Toy Retailers’ Association said families had the choice of a wide range of affordable toys which provided fun for family members of all ages.

Among the 12 toys it has tipped to be best-sellers this Christmas is the recently launched Hatchimals – interactive creatures that eventually “hatch” from an egg in response to a child’s touch – and which are already selling out in some parts of the UK.

The £59.99 toy, suitable for those five and over, is already in short supply in some retailers after being on sale for just a month. Manufacturer Spin Master said it had ramped up production and was overseeing a phased supply into stores into next year to ensure consumers were not disappointed.

“Analysis of the top-selling toys this year shows the sheer variety of concepts driving the sector – from low-priced collectables to entertainment-driven hot toys,” said Frederique Tutt, a toy industry analyst for the NPD Group.

Toy sales grew by 5% from January to September compared with the same period last year, she said, adding that while post-Brexit price increases of up to 10% were possible, consumers would not be hit in the pocket until after Christmas 2017.

Linzi Walker, the chief toy buyer for Argos, said the retailer was working closely with its suppliers across the world to try to avoid price rises at this stage.

The TRA’s DreamToys list is drawn up by a panel of leading toy retailers in the UK including Argos, Boots, Selfridges, Smyths Toys, the Entertainer, TK Maxx and Toys R Us.

DreamToys’ selection committee chairman, Gary Grant, said: “The one unifying thing that I see in the DreamToys selection this year is a sense of real family fun at the heart of many of the toys represented.”

Also on the Dream Toys list is the guaranteed “no mess” Snuggles My Dream Puppy and the Shopkins Chef Club Hot Spot Kitchen.

The £20 SelfieMic – an adjustable selfie stick with karaoke microphone that allows users to create their own music videos – and the family games Speak Out and Silly Sausage, also feature in the list of likely top-sellers.

Last year’s surprise Christmas hit, Pie Face, has been the top-selling game in the UK to mid-October and is joined this festive season by a version designed for two people.

A “contactless” version of Monopoly minus the wodges of cash, Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game, is also tipped to be popular for players aged eight and upwards.