// Smyths had the strongest growth of any toys retailer over Christmas as its share rose 1.6 percentage points to 11.3%
// Shoppers returned to stores to buy their toys with physical sales up 16% while online sales fell 11%
Smyths emerged the big winner in the toys sector over Christmas as shopper returned to physical stores to buy gifts.
Smyths had the strongest growth of any retailer as its market share jumped 1.6 percentage points to 11.3% over the 12 weeks to 26 December, making it second only to Amazon, according to Kantar’s latest toys market figures.
Over the period, UK shoppers spent an additional £19 million on toys, with sales up 1% year on year.
Smyths Toys, Amazon and Argos had a stronghold over the toys market over the period, with more than a third of the total toy market between them.
Kantar strategic insights director Joanna Parman said: “The combination of a Black Friday online boom followed quickly by a return to in-store shopping meant Smyths Toys had a real advantage over many of its competitors. It reaped the rewards of having both a streamlined digital presence plus a popular store estate.”
Growth across the toys market was driven by physical stores, where sales rose 16%, while online revenue dipped 11% as shoppers made the most of festive shopping without the restrictions that were in place last year.
“The toy market really gathered momentum at the end of 2021. A lockdown-free few months meant shoppers grabbed the chance to hit the shops and they spent £906 million in physical stores, £124 million more than in 2020. In-store shopping had a fantastic bounce-back in the run up to Christmas in particular.
“However, it’s important to remember that digital isn’t going anywhere. We saw this clearly in the week of Black Friday when toy sales surged by 124%* compared with an average week in 2021. As usual, this was driven primarily by online shopping. Retailers who can get both channels right stand to make the most impact on shoppers.”
Almost half (47%) of toy sales over the period were made online, and Parman said there was still “significant headroom” for growth for physical stores.
“Our research shows the enduring appeal of physical shops, and highlights just how important a compelling bricks-and-mortar offer remains for the toy sector,” she said.
“Despite strong performances from online channels and digital retailers, there’s a clear opportunity for toy stores that can get customers back into their high street shops. It’s likely that shoppers aren’t going to swing between purchasing online or instore, but will establish a more stable balance between the two.”
The fastest growing sectors over the festive period included creative and learning toys as well as vehicles.