Family Game Night Galore: How COVID-19 is Influencing the Toys Category


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of the country under stay-at-home orders, parents and kids alike are on a continual hunt for activities that will keep kids entertained — and parents sane. 

And I don’t mean that only in general terms — as a parent of two small kids who is working from home, I completely get it. Because while kids are engaged with e-learning for part of the day, there are a lot more hours that need to be filled, and sometimes those hours can seem like days when your kids are completely done with the options in front of them. 

So while toys and games for kids may not be considered “essential” by some, parents at home with their kids would say differently.

With the majority of the country at home, retailers and suppliers of kids’ toys and games have seen leaps in growth over the past month. Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner noted ina recent interview that the company is seeing a great demand for their products, and their supply chain in China was back up and running to help meet the increase in demand. 

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Little Tikes toy brand, which makes playhouses, kitchen sets, basketball hoops, and more, were up 100% in March compared to the year before, and sales of classic toys like Lite-Brite and Lincoln Logs have also seen a surge in sales.

These are just a few examples of the increase in demand the category is seeing as families stay at home with more free time on their hands than ever before. And digging a little deeper into the depths of the bolstered toy sales, we’re seeing some trends starting to emerge.

Board games take top prize

Family game night has been taken to new levels during this pandemic, as parents and kids alike are reaching for classics and new games, along with puzzles of every shape and kind. On product discovery platforms, we’re seeing high numbers daily of positive buyer-supplier engagement for these two categories. 

For puzzles, that number is about 445 daily, while board games are seeing even more impressions, with around 670 per day. Over the course of a week, that’s significant buyer time spent on discovery in just this category.

This increased interest in these two categories is in line with what’s being reported on sales for puzzles and board games. Toy sales grew by 26% for the week ending March 21, according to the NPD Group, and one of the fastest-growing categories, they noted, were puzzles and games, which spiked up 228%.

Outdoor toys are on the rise

We’re also seeing an increased interest in outdoor toys. Buyers are engaging with suppliers of outdoor toys around 726 times per day, and with suppliers of riding toys 101 times per day. Engagement with suppliers of play structures is around 230. 

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And that tracks with sales of outdoor toys, as parents jump on buying toys that will let their kids get out the energy they’d normally expel on a school playground. The NPD Group shows sales of outdoor and sports toys were up 20% for the week ending March 21, and with warmer weather on the way, and stay-at-home orders extending in some states, the interest and sales in outdoor sales should continue.

Bringing up baby

While a lot of the trends we’re seeing emerge are targeted at kids that are toddler age and above, let’s not forget that there are plenty of parents out there who are at home with babies, and that’s inviting a new round of innovation for products that keep babies safe, active, and engaged. This year’s JPMA Best in Baby show was canceled, but they still handed out their innovation awards (virtually, of course). 

JPMA Executive Director Kelly Mariotti noted that this year’s winners focused on ease and convenience, as well as advancements in technology and safety. From a bedtime routine system to a 3-in-1 airtivity center, many of the products that took home innovation awards from the show would be ideal additions to a home where parents are trying to simultaneously work and care for their infants and toddlers.

Those trends are also reflected in what we’re seeing with buyers on RangeMe. Development toys for toddlers and infants are seeing almost 800 positive engagements per day, and baby toys are seeing almost 600 per day. 

Our kids, our future

Though the future of when the country will get back to normal — or at least a new normal — is uncertain, one thing that kids toys and games suppliers can count on is continued and increasing interest in their products. While there is some speculation about the available toy supply — it’s estimated that85% of toy products are made in China and someU.S. toy manufacturers shift to making medical supplies — as of now, there doesn’t seem to be a concern that companies won’t be able to provide for the increased interest. Buyers are looking, and suppliers are ready and continually innovating, and when added together equals more fun for mom, dad, and kids alike. 


Brandon Leong is vice president of marketing and growth for RangeMe, the online sourcing platform that streamlines new product discovery between suppliers and retailers. Seventy percent of the top 100 retailers in the U.S., and thousands of independent retailers, use RangeMe as an efficient way to discover innovative new products and manage the inbound product submission process.