Social distancing may be a damper on most industries — but it’s proving a boon to toy makers.
With the tots stuck at home and play dates and parks largely off-limits, parents have been buying toys in bulk in hopes of keeping the little one occupied and away from the TV while they work.
Adam Stein-Sapir of Manhattan says he “spent hundreds of dollars on toys that arrived last week, including a trampoline that I put together at 11:30 at night,” in order to keep his 5-year-old busy the week New York City shut down its schools.
Stein-Sapir, a distressed-debt expert, put the trampoline together at night so it’d be ready first thing in the morning — at his wife’s suggestion, he said. He also bought paint, markers, activity books and clay, all on Amazon.
Such buying sprees are happening across the country due to the coronavirus — and spiking sales of board games, building sets and outdoor activity centers, industry experts say.
“Toys that keep kids busy for a long time, or at least 45 minutes, while parents are working at home are what’s soaring,” Isaac Larian, chief executive of Los Angeles-based MGA Entertainment told The Post.
Sales of MGA’s Little Tikes brand of toys, for example, were up 100 percent in March compared to last year, Larian said. “We have never seen that before,” Larian said.
The brand’s play houses, kitchen sets, basketball hoops and trampolines have been selling so briskly that Target recently expanded its shelf space to 20 feet from 12 feet, according to Larian.
The coronavirus is also lifting sales at Basic Fun, maker of Lite-Brite and Lincoln Logs.
“It’s crazy to say it, but we had our best first quarter ever this year,” said Basic Fun Chief Executive Jay Foreman. “Parents are loading up on building, craft and activity toys.”
Sales of Lite-Brite toys were up 800 percent on Amazon last week, Foreman said. He’s also seeing strong demand for building toys like Lincoln Logs and K’nex.
Sales tracker NPD Group backs up the trend with a recent report showing that toy sales were up 26 percent for the week ending March 21. The toy categories with the biggest spikes were games and puzzles, up 228 percent, building sets, up 76 percent, arts and crafts, up 70 percent, and outdoor toys, up 20 percent, according to NPD’s report.
“Parents are looking for things for kids to do in the house that are not screen related,” Jim Silver, president to toy review Web site TTPM told The Post.
But bored adults may also be contributing to the surge, according to Twitter. “Going on week 3 of quarantine and now that i got this trampoline my happy levels went up by a million,” one Twitter user wrote. “Not sure if that will last but we are pushing all we can,” Foreman said.
Indeed, the Boca Raton, Fla., company recently laid off 18 people, or 10 percent of staff, as the coronavirus crimped toy production in China, adding to the industry’s woes from President Trump’s tariff war with China.
“Since we don’t know what the future is, we can’t unwind the layoffs,” Foreman said. “However, it will prevent us from doing further layoffs for the near future and help us secure our balance sheet so we can come out of this in as good a shape as possible.”
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