Supermarkets enjoyed a boom year for toy sales in 2014 – growing ahead of a strong performance by the overall market.

UK toy sales rose £130m last year to £3bn. This was an increase of 4.4% on the previous year, and the strongest growth recorded by the toy industry since 2010, according to data from retail analysts The NPD Group.

But the grocery channel grew even faster, with sales up 6.2% year on year, ahead of specialist toy retailers at 3.9%.

NPD said the supermarkets had benefitted from sales of World Cup toys and collectibles, and low-priced lines such as Loom Bands.

“These were priced just right to be put in the shopping trolley along with the week’s shop – rather than higher-priced items that people just buy at Christmas,” said The NPD Group global toys industry analyst Frédérique Tutt.

She added that the whole market had benefitted from a resurgence in sales of collectable brands, with unit sales up 12% year-on-year to 416 million toys, as sales of products priced under £5 increased 9%. This followed a flat performance for such lines in 2013. 

Licenses performed well in 2014, with eight of the top 10 new products linked to a movie or a cartoon (see table below). Disney’s Frozen became the best toy-selling movie in the UK beating the previous record held by Toy Story 3.

Black Friday was also a boon to the toy market, with sales in Black Friday week up 10% year on year as consumers snapped up higher-priced main presents and electronic toys. This resulted in Black Friday sales exceeding those of the week prior to Christmas, traditionally the biggest week in the toy market.

Looking forward, Tutt said strong movie licenses such as Jurassic World – a new movie in the Jurassic Park series - and upcoming Star Wars film The Force Awakens would help the toy market grow an estimated 3% in 2015.

“We won’t be able to rely on looms or the World Cup but thanks to product innovation and a strong line-up of movies there will be plenty of excitement for kids big and small throughout the year,” she added.

UK top 10 best-selling new toys 2014 (by value sales)

2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil Official Album Stickers Panini
Star Wars Great Vehicles 2014 Lego Group
Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Jakks Pacifi
Lego The Simpsons Mini Figures  Lego Group
Star Wars MF set 2014 Lego Group
Disney Frozen Ice Skating Assortment Mattel
Transformers Age Of Extinction Flip N Change Asst Hasbro
Cra-Z-Loom Bracelet Maker Character Options
Kidizoom Smart Watch Vtech
Star Wars Great Vehicles 2014 PP1 Lego Group
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service