Unwrapping Holiday Toy Trends

What retailers and toymakers are planning for the season
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
Lynn Petrak profile picture
Barbie dolls
Thanks to the record-setting "Barbie" movie, sales of Barbie merchandise are expected to be brisk this holiday season.

The gift-giving season is approaching, and so is the buying frenzy for toys. Although the goods won’t be opened until December’s holidays, manufacturers and retailers are touting popular playthings and deals for parents, grandparents and other givers.

Target, for its part, announced that this year’s“Bullseye's Top Toys” list is its most affordable to date, with thousands of toys and games offered under a $25 price point. "We know affordability is top of mind for many of our guests as we head into the holiday season, and we're committed to delivering exceptional value as they make plans to celebrate with friends and family," said Jill Sando, EVP and chief merchandising officer at Target.

Target is also offering exclusive products through collaborations with top toy brands including Disney and FAO Schwarz. The retailer is adding another new dynamic to holiday toy shopping, via an “immersive 360° shoppable experience” that allows kids and gift-givers a chance to virtually interact with its Top Toys list.

Amazon, which recently shared its slate of holiday products and promotions, published a list of “Toys We Love.” That list includes at least 100 new offerings and several dozen that are Amazon exclusives.

[Read more: “How Amazon and Target Are Approaching the Holiday Selling Season”]

Meanwhile, The Toy Association recently held its annual Toy Fair in New York City, where the trade group shared insights and predictions for the upcoming holiday selling season. One notable trend is the expansion of the toy market to include more adults, dubbed “kidults.” According to a survey conducted for The Toy Association by Wakefield Research, 89% of parents said they will buy toys for the grownups in their lives and 43% of parents will buy toys for themselves.

Adrienne Appell, EVP of marketing communications at The Toy Association, also shared how toy buyers are seeking to provide delight without blowing their budgets. “Even as families tighten their wallets amid an uncertain economy, toys and play will be top-of-mind this holiday season,” she remarked. “Our findings indicate that parents are looking for feature-rich toys that offer a lot of bang for their buck, as well as toys that will bring the entire family together through play. In fact, 64% of parents we surveyed said they are looking to make connections with their kids this holiday season by buying toys they can play with together.”

Consumers with toys on their shopping lists are also taking a closer look at brands and products. The Toy Association's survey found that nearly a third (31%) of parents want to ensure that the companies they buy toys from have core values that align with their own. Sustainability and diversity are also emerging selling points for toys, the research indicates.

As for specific toys, the success of this summer’ “Barbie” move is expected to fuel sales of Barbie merchandise. For example, a Barbie roller doll and latest version of the Barbie Dreamhouse are featured on Walmart's Top Toy List for 2023. Other newer movies aimed at children, including reboots of “The Little Mermaid” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” are likely to influence demand, too, according to The Toy Association.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100 and Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1. 

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