What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us
COVID-19

Delayed movie releases ripple through toy industry

Samantha Fields Feb 8, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Despite delays to big theatrical releases in 2020, licensed toys connected to legacy franchises, like "Star Wars," sold well last year. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Disney
COVID-19

Delayed movie releases ripple through toy industry

Samantha Fields Feb 8, 2021
Heard on:
Despite delays to big theatrical releases in 2020, licensed toys connected to legacy franchises, like "Star Wars," sold well last year. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Disney
HTML EMBED:
COPY

During the pandemic, toy companies haven’t been able to capitalize as much on sales of new toys and merchandise related to big movie releases, as many movies were significantly delayed.

We’re finding out more this week about how toy companies are faring overall. Hasbro reported its quarterly results on Monday, beating forecasts for revenue and profit. Mattel is set to report Tuesday.

Big new movie releases often mean new, licensed toys. President and CEO of the Toy Association Steve Pasierb said, in recent years, that’s made up a good chunk of sales for the toy industry.

“This year it was either flat to slightly declining because of the lack of large theatrical releases,” Pasierb said.

There were, however, some licensed toys connected to legacy franchises, like “Star Wars, “that sold well in 2020, he said.

“Like ‘The Mandalorian,’ in streaming, that did extremely well and generated ‘the Child,’ which was a hot selling toy,” Pasierb said.

Overall, 2020 was a strong year for the toy industry. Sales were up 16%, according to NPD Group, and that’s “despite the lack of entertainment calendar that we’ve usually had,” said Jaime Katz, an analyst at Morningstar.

Katz said that’s because people bought plenty of other kinds of toys.

“Fashion dolls have done really well this year,” she said. “The sports toys category has done fairly well.”

With so much less money going toward travel and eating out, Katz said, many parents had a lot more to spend on toys.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.