The supermarkets have posted a shock slump in toy sales - and are now underperforming the overall market, new data from retail analysts NPD has revealed.

supermarket toy sales fell 2% last year, while the overall market slipped 1%, marking a massive reversal of fortunes for the supermarkets after the 9% hike they enjoyed in 2011 in a market up 3%.

One reason for the poor performance was a reduction in promotional activity, suggested industry insiders. While supermarkets had offered deals on many new lines, activity had not been as deep or widespread as in previous years, claimed one specialist retailer.

Sales had also suffered as a result of a lack of new product, something that had affected the whole market, added NPD. While new lines such as Lego’s girl-friendly Friends and pre-school tablets had performed well, the proportion of toy sales generated by new lines had fallen three percentage points to 31%, it said.

“Kids’ appetite for new products is fuelled by manufacturers with new launches,” said NPD toy industry analyst Frederique Tutt. “Innovation plays a vital role in growing and maintaining the market.”

The biggest declines were in arts & craft products and action figures, both down 16% in the supermarkets. The latter slump came despite the release of toys tied in with blockbuster movie properties such as Batman, Spider-man and The Avengers.

However, some toys bucked the trend. The star performers were youth electronic toys, up 21% year-on-year in the supermarkets against a 1% drop across the market. Sales were driven by the relaunched Furby, which was the top-selling toy in December [NPD].

Dolls also had a good year, with supermarket sales up 17%, outperforming the 11% growth in the wider market.