Covid-19: Shoppers stock up on toys and games to ease isolation

The first week of Covid-19 lockdown saw a 240% leap in sales of traditional board games and puzzles, as consumers prepared for extended periods indoors.

Figures from NPD Group show that the week ending 21 March saw a sharp spike of sales in the category. Traditional products fared well, with Hasbro's Monopoly Classic being the top seller, and Mattel's Scrabble Original coming at number six in a sales top ten chart. Whodunnit game Cluedo and Uno Original also sold well. However, newer products such as the L.O.L Surprise range of activity dolls were big sellers too.

The games and puzzles category more than doubled its share of the overall toy market from 9% to 21% over the week. Sales of garden toys such as slides and playhouses also increased as customers prepared for improved weather, while sales of arts & crafts products nearly doubled.

“Our figures clearly show that consumers are preparing for the coming weeks of isolation with a selection of family board games, outdoor and seasonal summer toys, craft kits and building sets,” said NPD Group global toy market expert Frederique Tutt.

“It’s interesting to see the classic games of Monopoly, Scrabble, Cluedo and Uno on this list. These ‘standards’ have shown us over and again that they can stand the test of time when reinvented and so it looks like they’ll continue entertaining generations of Britons as householders look to release stress and tighten family ties during these challenging times.

“We’ve seen this trend to buy board games during this lockdown period in France too, but where Brits buck the trend is in the sale of some of the toughest building sets available. With their price points at around £233 for the Technic Bugatti Chiron Construction Kit and approximately £153 for the Technic Land Rover Defender kit, these sets clearly aren’t just for the kids. We’re seeing a clear ‘kidult’ and adult trend here. Perhaps some of the buyers are grabbing the opportunity to use their newly found spare time to achieve a long-term dream to build one of these cars in Lego.”

Dedicated toy retailers, such as Smyths, have closed their stores due to the Covid-19 pandemic but are still offering products via home delivery – although some of the top sellers on the NPD list have sold out. High-street retailer The Entertainer is still offering an online service, although it states high demand is resulting in ordering taking 4-7 days for delivery.

The government ordered non-essential retail businesses to shut their doors amid a UK lockdown early last week, but a small number of retailers are trying to remain open dispute not being on the approved list of retail services. Sainsbury's for instance has been accused of using a loophole to keep its Argos outlets open within its grocery stores.