Counterfeit toys contribute to decrease in UK sales

2017 saw a dip in UK toy sales, after three years of growth for the industry.

To coincide with the UK’s Toy Fair, the British Hobby and Toy Association has released figures showing a dip in UK toy sales in 2017. Sales decreased by 2.8% last year, to £3.4 billion.

Analysis has been provided along with the figures:

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this dip in the market, including under-performing licenses, the impact of Brexit (particularly last year’s impact on Sterling), plus the ever-growing concern of counterfeit toys, according to the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and the NPD Group. The announcement, made at the 65th Toy Fair in London, follows three consecutive years of growth and a particularly strong year in 2016 and, despite the small decline, still positions the UK as the largest market in Europe.


Not all categories within the sector were down, although construction toys – the category that includes LEGO sets – is not singled out as a success story:

Collectables grew by 17 per cent in 2017 with brands such as Fingerlings dominating the must-have lists. The category was responsible for 9 per cent of the overall value of the market and 19 per cent of all units sold. Other strong sectors in 2017 were Doll playsets, Pre-School Figures and Action Figures.

The LEGO Batman Movie was one of the more successful licences in 2017:

“After three good years of growth for the UK toy industry, 2017 saw a decline as did other territories such as France and Australia” commented Frederique Tutt, global toy analyst for the NPD Group. “While licensed products are an integral part of the industry, across Europe it has been a sector that has under-performed – with the exception of PJ Masks, Cars 3 and Lego Batman.”


Star Wars is one of the traditional licensed properties that has been disappointing when it comes to toy sales, despite the continued box office success that the films enjoy. Counterfeit toys are also a persistent problem for the industry, as the LEGO Group continues to push back against clone brands such as Lepin.


Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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