Its time to take a look back at the events in 2016 that have or will have the biggest impact on the toy and play industry. These are not listed in order of importance nor are they everything of import that happened this year. They are, however, what caught my eye.
Korean based, Hanjin Shipping, one of the top 10 shipping companies in the world, filed for bankruptcy in September, marooning its ships at sea and preventing the off-loaded of its cargo. Other container companies are also struggled as they scrambled to merge or to be sold.
Times are indeed tough for the container ship industry. A dramatic drop in the import / export trade with China along with an oversupply of container ships has meant that shipping costs have dropped. The lower prices are great for manufacturers and retailers but terrible for shippers.
2. Two new toy industry consumer events.
This year the Toy Industry Association announced it was moving its Manhattan based PlayFair consumer toy event to November 4-5. Also this year, Hasbro announced that its HasCon fan convention will take pace from September 8 through 10 at the Duncan Donuts Convention Center in Providence Rhode Island. They join ChiTag in Chicago and Gen Con in Indianapolis in providing opportunities for toy and game companies to get close and personal with consumers.
3. Trump elected president.
Donald Trump's election could have a major impact on toy companies. His strongly stated views on what he perceives as unfair trading practices by the Chinese could create some tensions for an industry that produces 85% of its toys in that Asian nation.
4. Digital sales grow while bricks and mortar retailers close stores.
It was a great year for e-commerce providers as consumers continued to find ease and comfort in shopping online. On the other hand, Sports Authority (460 stores) and Sports Chalet (47 stores) filed for bankruptcy this year while Walgreens, Macy's Walmart and Kmart closed a total of 1,342 stores.
5. Major increases in retail toy sales
These are good times for toy companies as last year's strong finish of +6.7% could be matched this year with an increase, depending upon whom you read, of anywhere from 3% to 7%.
2016 is currently in the midst of a major fad: Hatchimals. These furry creatures that hatch from eggs (if you nurture them) have caught the imagination of parents and kids. They have been so hard to find that some eBay third party sellers are asking over $800. That's great for Spin Master who makes them and the entire toy industry as shoppers, in hope of finding one of the illusive creatures, head straight to the toy department when they enter the store.
For part 2, click here.