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Toymakers expect strong Christmas sales despite coronavirus

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Toymakers are expecting strong global sales during the critical end-of-year festive season, after a surge of pandemic-fuelled demand for items such as Barbies and board games.

Hasbro, maker of Monopoly and Jenga, told investors on Monday it was poised for a "good holiday season".

The forecast followed rival Mattel's report last week of its biggest sales jump in a decade.

The firm's Barbie dolls hit their highest quarterly sales since 2003.

The gains have come as families buy toys and games in an attempt to fend off boredom amid the pandemic lockdowns.

"The toy industry as a whole grew meaningfully and continues to demonstrate its resilience in challenging economic times," said Mattel chief executive Ynon Kreiz.

In the first nine months of the year, Hasbro sales grew 13% from 2019 - bucking the wider plunge in consumer spending around the world.

At Mattel, sales are down 2% from 2019 - but some brands, such as Barbie, are having their strongest run in years.

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The firm said gross sales of the doll grew 15% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020. In the most recent quarter, they rose 29% to more than $532m.

Mattel told investors last week it was predicting holiday season sales growth of roughly 5% from last year - greater than many wider forecasts of festive season spending.

However, analysts have warned that the pandemic may throw some surprises at toymakers in the upcoming months, as family budgets increasingly feel strains and concerns about coronavirus infection change holiday shopping dynamics.

"Not only am I concerned that paycheque spending may be limited, but I'm concerned that we will not see that last minute rush into the stores due to fears of Covid-19," Juli Lennett, vice president at market research firm NPD Group, wrote recently.

But she said toymakers might still manage to see some gains.

"As we've seen in previous economically challenged times, parents will sometimes forego their own needs to make their children happy. In this crazy, stressful year, parents might just go overboard and splurge on their kids -if they have money," she said.

Related Topics

  • Retailing
  • Christmas
  • Toys
  • Companies

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