Monday, February 15, 2010

NY Market Week Highlights

by Mary Gerlach

Earlier this month, the staff of Baby & Kids magazine set up shop in New York City for a few days. Trade shows are one of the most exciting aspects of our jobs as we get a chance to see products (and often times prototypes) before they hit store shelves the following season. Aside from new products, many of which you’ll find in the pages of Baby & Kids, show management and the industry as a whole celebrates milestones and releases big show news.

Here are few highlights from the show. For more coverage, look for my NY Market Week wrap-up report in the upcoming issue of Giftware News Plus. Sign up here to receive your complimentary subscription.

Associate editor Ashley Trent led the New Buyer Orientations during the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF). Ashley was joined by NYIGF’s Helen Overly. Helen, by her own account, has been in the industry in one of several capacities for countless years. Together, the two ladies answered questions from first-time buyers across the globe. For some, it was their first trade show before opening a shop and for others, NYIGF was their first stateside show.

Karen Wolfskehl (right), Baby & Kids' east coast sales rep, chats up industry associates at the Gift For Life The Stakes Are High fundraising events for DIFFA. The evening was a night of cocktails and camaraderie as buyers, manufacturers and show-management groups put business aside for a good cause. DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS is a large supporter of direct care for individuals living with HIV/AIDS as well as prevention education for at-risk populations.

Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W New York, is flanked by exhibitors for the ribbon cutting of the first ever NYC Baby & Kids Fair, a temporary juvenile show on the 11th floor.

Dorothy Belshaw, NYIGF director and GLM senior vice president, announces Focus Forward 2013, NYIGF’s strategic planning, which will be implemented in stages starting with the Summer 2010 Fair and culminating in 2013. As part of the expansion, NYIGF will introduce Baby + Child division of juried, purpose-driven products for babies, toddlers and kids (through age 10), and their families. The range of featured products will include arts and crafts, books, music, toys, games, puzzles, dolls and plush, gear (diaper bags, stroller accessories and feeding accessories), wearables and accessories, layette, bedding accessories and blankets. Ultimately, Baby + Child will feature some 200 companies on Level One of the Javits.

Buyers found green inspiration in the SustainAbility Design for a better world display. Featuring a juried collection of eco-friendly, innovative design, the display highlighted sustiaable design in the lobby and detailed the companies behind the products.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

U.S. Toy Industry Generates $21+ Million In 2009

According to market research company, The NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.47 billion in 2009 compared to $21.65 billion in 2008, a decline of under 1 percent. While sales for children ages 8 and under still represent the lion’s share of total toy sales at 69 percent, the only age group to gain in share and absolute dollar sales was kids ages 9 to 12.

“2009 was a remarkably uneventful year for the toy industry, but in a good way," said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. " In a time of continued economic turmoil, toy industry revenues were very stable, and the uptick in unit sales in the four quarter is a very positive sign for the industry heading into 2010.”

Looking at revenue sales performance across super-categories, building sets and arts and crafts experienced the most significant increases, at 23 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Action Figures and Games/Puzzles saw respective revenue increases of 4 percent and 1 percent. Looking at the opposite side of the revenue sales spectrum, Youth Electronics and Plush experienced the largest declines when compared to 2008, at 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“The increase in Building Sets and Arts & Crafts speaks to the entertainment value these categories deliver," said Frazier. "Both can deliver hours of open-ended play, and Arts & Crafts in particular does so at very attractive price points.”

Counter to what many would expect due to the economy, unit share for toys priced under $5 decreased in 2009, both for the full year and in the forth quarter. In 2009, while overall unit sales were down less than 1 percent (0.5%), the only price range that lost share were toys under $5. In other words, people were buying more toys priced in the mid-range (between $5 and $10).