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Unicorns, Barbie, fall of Toys 'R' Us have grown U.S. toy industry

By Ed Adamczyk
Sales of the durable Barbie doll, and empathy for demise of retailer Toys "R" Us, were among the reasons market research firm The NPD Group noted a 7 percent gain in toy sales in the United States in the first six months of 2018. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/fd2902087f6ee7a18efba8fbd8fe1d27/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Sales of the durable Barbie doll, and empathy for demise of retailer Toys "R" Us, were among the reasons market research firm The NPD Group noted a 7 percent gain in toy sales in the United States in the first six months of 2018. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Sales by the U.S. toy industry grew by 7 percent in the first half of this year -- fueled in part by the demise of Toys "R" Us, a market research group said Monday.

The NPD Group said in a statement sales on toys increased by $7.9 billion in the first six months of the year, with the category "Youth Electronics" growing by 43 percent.

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The grouping includes Fingerlings, Star Wars and Tamagotchi toys. It was followed by "Dolls," which include L.O.L. Surprise!, Hatchimals and the durable Barbie, and "Action Figures and Accessories," propelled by the movie release of Black Panther in February, Avengers Infinity War in April, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in June.

Toys in the under-$15 set showed the greatest gain, the report said. It includes L.O.L. Surprise!, Total Marvel, Fingerlings, Hatchimals, and Soft N Slo Squishes toys.

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The time period under consideration coincided with the liquidation of Toys "R" Us, the mass market toy store founded in 1948.

The report suggested that the gloom over the chain store's demise was in part responsible for the growth of the toy business from January to June.

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"It is likely that the Toys 'R' Us news has kept toys top-of-mind for parents and grandparents when shopping for kids in general, benefiting both consumers and the industry," said Juli Lennett, NPD Group senior vice president and toys industry adviser. "I am also convinced that the strong toy industry growth so far this year has been at least partially supported by the empathy that people felt towards losing a store like Toys 'R' Us. I think it brought about an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys overall."

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Toys involving dinosaurs and ponies, including unicorns, grew by 77 percent in the first two quarters of 2018, and NPD Group expects the trend to continue through the Christmas shopping season.

Among the 20 fastest-selling new items in the toy category, six -- Unicorn Sprinkler, Fingerlings Untamed Dino Stealth, Little Tikes Magical Unicorn Carriage, Jurassic World Roarivores Assortment, Mega Unicorn Island Inflatable, and Jurassic World Indoraptor Rampage -- have a dinosaur or unicorn theme.

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