Delayed movie releases ripple through toy industry

During the pandemic, toy companies haven’t been able to capitalize as much on sales of new toys and merchandise related to big movie releases, as many movies were significantly delayed.

We’re finding out more this week about how toy companies are faring overall. Hasbro reported its quarterly results on Monday, beating forecasts for revenue and profit. Mattel is set to report Tuesday.

Big new movie releases often mean new, licensed toys. President and CEO of the Toy Association Steve Pasierb said, in recent years, that’s made up a good chunk of sales for the toy industry.

“This year it was either flat to slightly declining because of the lack of large theatrical releases,” Pasierb said.

There were, however, some licensed toys connected to legacy franchises, like “Star Wars, “that sold well in 2020, he said.

“Like ‘The Mandalorian,’ in streaming, that did extremely well and generated ‘the Child,’ which was a hot selling toy,” Pasierb said.

Overall, 2020 was a strong year for the toy industry. Sales were up 16%, according to NPD Group, and that’s “despite the lack of entertainment calendar that we’ve usually had,” said Jaime Katz, an analyst at Morningstar.

Katz said that’s because people bought plenty of other kinds of toys.

“Fashion dolls have done really well this year,” she said. “The sports toys category has done fairly well.”

With so much less money going toward travel and eating out, Katz said, many parents had a lot more to spend on toys.

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

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A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

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New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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