Last was a boom year for the German toy industry. The market recorded an increase in sales of around nine percent, which in view of the corona pandemic was at least unimpressed in terms of sales figures. The toy manufacturers remain optimistic for the current year 2021, but expect some clearer challenges from the effects of the virus crisis. Local retailers in particular are viewed with concern.

In mid-January, the German Association of the Toy Industry carried out a corona survey. It was the third of its kind. According to the toy manufacturers, the main headache is the economic impact of the pandemic on stationary toy retailers, which could face existential difficulties with the second wave of infections and the renewed lockdown.

The supply chains remain another challenge. The majority of manufacturers therefore want to accelerate digitization and set a focus on sales, for example via web shops. The focus is also on supporting specialist retailers and increasing resilience along the supply chain.

Local game retailers are suffering from Corona

That especially the local toy store Regular customers in particular see the effects of the pandemic. You currently have to forego on-site shopping and instead use many alternative sales offers with which retailers are trying to defy the crisis: For example, pick-up and delivery services were set up, voucher campaigns started or virtual tours of the game store were offered. Dealers are creative, but they also need to show perseverance.

The corona pandemic has also left its mark on the toy industry, which is otherwise rather used to success - above all of a psychological nature. "It is therefore a reflection of the overall economic development," according to the German Association of the Toy Industry. While the German economy was still assuming a recovery in 2021 in the third quarter, disillusionment set in a few months later.

The toy industry needs face-to-face fairs - it is unclear what it will look like in 2021. Photo: Volkmann

The toy industry needs face-to-face fairs - it is unclear what it will look like in 2021. Photo: Volkmann

In the first Corona survey in March 2020, respondents were optimistic about the further course of business, meanwhile around 50 percent of respondents expect slight to strong negative effects - despite a boom year in the past. This is also evident from the DVSI survey results.

The postponement of the toy fair to the summer due to the pandemic situation probably also caused a downturn, which the online alternative "Brand New" was unable to compensate for. 44 percent of the manufacturers expect slight to strong negative effects from the postponement of the event. Above all suppliers from the multi-sector group (80 percent) and wooden toys/arts and crafts (60 percent) believe this, according to the survey results.

"The results are not a surprise," says DVSI Managing Director Ulrich Brobeil. “Especially the suppliers of wooden toys and trend items need face-to-face trade fairs. They are also more dependent on stationary trade than large brands, which have benefited particularly from the online boom. The renewed lockdown and the imponderables of how the European markets will develop for manufacturers are likely to have dampened the mood."

Some segments are growing significantly

On the other hand, the product groups model trains / accessories (61 percent), model making & hobbies (60 percent) and games / puzzles / learning (54 percent), which were among the market drivers last year with their employment opportunities, are particularly confident. The games / puzzles sector alone grew by 2020 percent in 21. An impressive example of this was the recent announcement of the Ravensburger sales growth.

The toy manufacturers are convinced that the pandemic will leave lasting traces in the retail landscape. But they react - with a dual strategy that focuses on changed consumer behavior. Only seven percent of those surveyed believe that customers are returning fully to the stationary toy trade, 54 percent believe that this is only partially successful. The future lies online for many toy manufacturers: for 65 percent, expanding sales via their own web shop solutions and using social media (61 percent) are high on the agenda.

But you don't want to automatically neglect the brick-and-mortar trade. The toy manufacturers know about the importance of the specialist trade as a shop window and place of experience for the customers. 50 percent want to support this sales channel in a targeted manner again this year, as they did through various measures during the first lockdown. In addition, toy manufacturers expect more support from politicians. Here, 70 percent of those surveyed see a considerable need for improvement, especially with regard to the support measures. "That could also be an indication," says Ulrich Brobeil, "that our members know exactly what particular burdens the stationary toy trade is currently having to bear."

License issues bring good sales, even with board and card games. Photo: Volkmann

License issues bring good sales, even with board and card games. Photo: Volkmann

The pandemic also has an impact on the issue of sustainability. In October 2019, almost two-thirds of the survey for the annual DVSI Index were convinced that ecological sustainability has become a topic with high economic relevance for the toy industry, it has currently lost some of its importance. Nevertheless, 17 percent believe that the pandemic can even be a driver for more ecological sustainability. "Of course, manufacturers are currently focusing on economic aspects," says Ulrich Brobeil, "but the data shows that ecological sustainability will continue to accompany us in the coming years." 2020 was a difficult year for new license adaptations because various cinema films were postponed or migrated to the web. "Although the classics benefit from this," Ulrich Brobeil continues, "but the toy industry, in which around 20 percent of sales are generated License issues is generated also thrives on new blockbusters or the introduction of new characters.

The games/puzzles product group can look back on a brilliant year in 2020. Some manufacturers even recorded an increase in sales of up to 40 percent. The positive development is likely to continue in 2021, as the DVSI survey suggests. "I'm a little surprised," says Ulrich Brobeil, "how jigsaw puzzles have been booming. Apparently, the manufacturers have not only succeeded in convincing fans of the hobby with attractive motifs, but also in addressing other target groups with new story puzzles.” So storytelling has also arrived at puzzles. By the way: January 29th is International Puzzle Day.

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Last updated on 27.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API