While the form and function of toys has changed over time, they continue to entertain, educate and inspire play. There are toys, such as puzzles and building blocks that help to learn new skills. Other toys, including balls and frisbees, develop coordination and encourage physical activity while others encourage imagination and storytelling.
The global toy market is valued at over $116 billion, with Lego being the most popular toy producer worldwide, with a value of over $6.8 billion.
In this article, we focus on toy industry statistics in Canada, including manufacturing and sales. We have also included information about Canadian toy makers and the trends in the toy and games market.
Toy Industry Statistics for Canadians
- Canadian toy and games sales generated almost $3.63 billion in retail store sales in 2020.
- The value of sales increased by 9% in 2021 compared to 2020.
- In 2020, toys and games imported to Canada were worth $5.32 billion.
- Most of Canada’s toy and game exports go to the United States.
- There are 1,597 hobby & toy store businesses in Canada in 2023.
- In December 2021 there were 85 toy and game manufacturers in Canada.
- Three out of four Canadians still prefer to shop for toys and games in brick-and-mortar stores.
- The fastest-growing toy categories in 2021 were plush toys, outdoor and sports toys, and games and puzzles.
- Amazon and Walmart are the two biggest online retailers of toys and games in Canada, while Costco’s online store has seen the biggest growth.
- In 2020, the most popular category for games and toys was the outdoor and sports toys category.
Toy industry definition
The toy and games industry includes both manufacturers and sellers of toys. There are other facets to the industry too, which include the design and marketing of toys.
The market includes all types of toys, including activity toys, action figures, baby and infant toys, miniature models, puzzles, games and electronics, ride-on model toys, and toy vehicles.
Canadian toy industry sales figures
Data from Statista reveals that the toy and game sales revenue in Canada amounts to $7.3 billion in 2022. The expected annual market growth from 2022 to 2026 is 7.13%. Globally, the most revenue, $99.87bn in 2022, is generated in China.
According to The NPD Group, the sales value of toys and games increased by 9%, which is equivalent to approximately $104 million, from January 2021 to August 2021. Compared to the same period in 2019, the sales value has increased by 21%, which is equivalent to $218 million.
Unit sales are growing, too, after lagging in 2020. In 2021, sales were up by 6% compared to the previous year and 2% when compared to 2019.
Value of toys and games imported to Canada
In 2020, the value of toys and games imported to Canada was $5.32 billion. This was down from 2019 when the value of imports in the toy industry was $5.43 billion. In the ten years since 2011, the highest value of toys and games imported to Canada was in 2018 at $5.78 billion.
Value of toys and games exported from Canada
The majority of Canadian toy and game exports go to the United States. The value of the exports to the United States in 2020 was $587.5 million. The Chinese market was the next largest individual market with a value of $20.8 million followed by Japan with $15.5 million and the United Kingdom with $13.3 million.
Canada’s toy exports have decreased between April 2021 and April 2022, according to the OEC. Their statistics show that Canadian toy and games exports decreased most to Hong Kong by 80%, France by 60%, and the United Kingdom by 49% during and following the pandemic.
How many toy, hobby, and game retailers are there in Canada?
According to Ibis World, there are 1,597 hobby & toy store businesses in Canada in 2023, which represents a decline of 0.4% from 2022. Ontario has the most toy and games stores with around 580 stores in December 2022. In contrast, Yukon only had two toy and games stores in December 2022 according to Statista.
How many toy and game manufacturers are there in Canada?
In December 2021 there were 85 toy and game manufacturers in Canada. Most of these are in Ontario and Quebec, where there are 32 manufacturers in each province. In British Columbia, there are eleven toy and game manufacturers, seven in Alberta and three in Nova Scotia. There are no toy manufacturers in the other provinces or territories.
How do Canadians prefer to shop for toys?
During the holiday season of 2021, almost 60% of Canadian consumers planned to shop for toys and games online using a mobile device, computer, or tablet.
However, Canadians still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores for toys and games, with 75% of consumers choosing to shop by visiting an actual store.
More people were shopping for toys and games online during the pandemic. When the lockdowns were lifted, the number of online sales plateaued.
Which toy and game categories are Canadians spending the most money on?
In 2020, Canadians spent more money on outdoor and sports toys compared to the second biggest category of infant, toddler, and preschool toys. The spending in the first category was $440 million compared to $326 million in the second category.
The Retail Tracking Service by the NPD Group, which includes around 85% of the Canadian toy and games retail market, has a detailed breakdown of annual sales data from 2019 to 2020. According to the NPD Group’s data, the total sales were $2150.5 million in 2019 and $2373.6 in 20202, which is equivalent to 10% annual growth.
The other main categories after the two largest categories above include dolls with sales of $322 million and games and puzzles with $289 million in annual sales. Interestingly, the sales from youth electronics were only $46 million.
Which toy and game categories have seen the biggest growth in sales?
The NPD Group sales data shows that the biggest sales growth was in the outdoor and sports toys and games and puzzles categories. The sales of outdoor and sports toys increased by 28% in a year and the sales of games and puzzles by 27%.
Two categories saw sales figures fall in 2020. They were action figures where sales dropped by 15% and plush toys with a 10% drop in sales. There was no change in the sales of youth electronics. However, plush toys were back in fashion again in 2021 when their sales grew by 15%, while sales of outdoor and sports toys increased by a further 11%, and games and puzzles by 9%.
Canadian toy companies selling Canadian-made toys
Despite the international toy company Toys R Us being one of the largest toy retailers in Canada with 81 stores, many Canadian toy companies are selling Canadian-made toys that continue to do well following the pandemic. Some of these companies include:
- Bloco Toys is based in Outremont, Quebec, and designs and manufactures construction toys.
- Bojeux is a family business founded in 1976 in Anjou, Quebec. Their products include Trendly Art, Ketto, Rustik, and Matchitecture.
- Diabolo Puppets is a small company founded in 1992 and based in Laval, Quebec. The designer and owner of the company has been making puppets since childhood.
- Family Pastimes has been producing games since 1972 from toddlers to adults. Based in Perth, Ontario.
- Monsters Family, is a company based in Edmonton, Alberta, and specialises in plush toys including monster, animal, motorised, and custom plush toys.
- Thorpe Toys was founded in 1975 and has since been making hand-crafted wooden toys in Waterloo, Ontario.
- The Toy Factory has been refocused on making its own wooden toys and games since the beginning of 2020. The company is based in New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island and their selection of toys includes dolls, doll houses, and pretend play toys.
- Toymaker of Lunenburg is a company based in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia that focuses on toys and games that support children’s educational development such as brain teasers and games.
Top online stores for toys and games in Canada by revenue
Amazon Canada is the biggest online retailer of toys in Canada with a total revenue of $13,101 million in 2021. The company’s revenue in Canada grew 37.3% from 2020 to 2021. Behind Amazon is Walmart Canada with a revenue of $3,274 million and growth of 19%.
The top five online retailers that saw the biggest growth between 2020 and 2021 was Costco Canada with 44.5% growth. Its revenue was $2,620 million. During the same period, Toys R Us Canada saw their sales go up by 6% and Carter’s Canada by 9.1% while the sales for the two companies were $131 million and $98 million, respectively.
Holiday season shopping 2021
Just over half of toy and game sales in Canada occur from September to December. The most popular toys and games in the 2021 holiday season included Pokémon, Star Wars, Paw Patrol, Bratz, and Barbie.
Toys based on video games such as Super Mario Brothers and ROBLOX also continued to be popular.
The trends and best new toys in 2022
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the toy and games market has seen an increasing demand for toys intended to help children with stress and anxiety. These toys include calming sensory toys, play sets that help children to develop social and emotional skills, soothing fidgets as well as toys that facilitate remote learning.
Another rising trend includes toys, games, and play sets that focus on sustainability. These toys aim to inspire children to look after the environment through play while using more sustainable materials in the making of the products as well as in their packaging.
A final trend that is growing is toys that help children develop their storytelling skills and imagination, including youth electronics for children to take their own photos and create their own videos.
The Good Housekeeping has compiled a list together with industry experts on the best toys in 2022, which include:
- Many Moods of Red Panda Mei Plush is inspired by the movie Turning Red, the plush toy is intended to help children with their emotions.
- Dino Dig VR is a virtual reality game that allows children to become immersed in the prehistoric Jurassic age by downloading a free app on a smartphone and wearing VR goggles.
- Mini Family Playset minis are exact replicas of the dolls and come in compact packaging. However, the downside is that the packaging is plastic other than for the limited edition Earth Love Dolls that are wrapped in paper packaging.
- DoodleJamz JellyPics is a creative toy with a reusable sensory art drawing pad. It allows children to paint with their fingers with none of the mess from using actual fingerpaints.
- Beginning Word Builder helps children to learn about different word families by using letter wheels they can try out new sound combinations on. It also comes with word and picture cards to support learning.
Generating almost $4 billion in retail store sales in 2020, the toy and games industry remains strong despite some stores and companies suffering financial losses because of the pandemic. Amazon and Walmart dominate online sales of toys and games in Canada. However, Costco has seen the biggest growth among the top five online toy retailers in Canada.
Even though the online portion of toy and game sales has increased, especially during the pandemic, most Canadians still prefer to buy toys from brick-and-mortar stores. During and following the pandemic, outdoor and sports toys and games and puzzles experienced the biggest sales growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Amazon Canada and Walmart Canada are the biggest online toy retailers in Canada.
There are 1,587 hobby & toy store businesses and 85 toy and game manufacturers in Canada.
Although the number of Canadians buying toys online increased during the pandemic, three quarters of Canadians still prefer to buy toys from brick-and-mortar stores.
The toy and games sales generated almost $3.63 billion in retail store sales in 2020 in Canada.
The most popular toys in 2022 included Barbies, Hot Wheels, and OMG Fashion Show Hair edition