We’re Spending Our Stimulus Checks on Toys and Mattel Sales Are Soaring

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The combination of COVID-19 lockdowns and government stimulus checks has proven to be a winning tonic for toymakers like Mattel, which reported a robust gain in quarterly sales during what is historically a weak period for the industry.

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Mattel logged first-quarter revenue of $874.2 million, up 47% from the previous year and well ahead of consensus analyst estimates of $684.2 million. As CNBC reported on Thursday, the maker of Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and other popular brands benefited from the extra disposable income parents got from government stimulus checks.

The first quarter is usually a slow period for toymakers because it follows the previous quarter’s holiday sales, meaning much of the money earmarked for toys and games has already been spent. But government stimulus checks — combined with parents needing to keep their kids busy while the COVID-19 pandemic kept them stuck at home — created the perfect storm for the industry.

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Mattel still lost money during the first quarter, which is typical. However, its losses narrowed to 10 cents a share from 61 cents the previous year and also came in well ahead of Wall Street expectations.

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The toy industry has been on a pretty good run ever since the pandemic hit. A separate CNBC article in January noted that industrywide U.S. toy sales hit $25.1 billion in 2020, up 16% from the previous year. Toy sales had been flat through mid-March of 2020 but picked up when families went into in lockdown.

Meanwhile, the industry has also benefited from a recent rise in U.S. consumer confidence, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Reuters reported.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte MagazineStreet & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, will be published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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