Today’s girls cannot let it go when it comes to their passion for the two Scandinavian princesses that star in Disney’s “Frozen.”
Barbie is no longer the top toy that parents expect to buy for their daughters this holiday season, the first time that the iconic doll didn’t top the National Retail Federation’s holiday “Top Toys” survey in its 11-year history. Instead, “Frozen” merchandise is reigning supreme, with the survey finding one in five parents this holiday plan to buy Disney’s “Frozen” merchandise. That topped the nearly 17% that expect to buy Barbies.
As Fortune reported earlier this year, sales of “Frozen” toys, games, shirts and more could hit $1 billion in the United States alone this year, observers estimate — a staggering sum for gear tied to film was released just a year ago. Industry experts say “Frozen,” a film that focuses on the relationship of two sisters, is one of the hottest toy properties that industry has seen in at least a decade.
Retailers and toy makers were caught off guard by the “Frozen” craze earlier this year, leading to some supply shortages and angry parents to take to social media to vent their frustration when they couldn’t find the princess dolls in their neighborhood stores. But retailers say they are better prepared today to meet demand.
“We have over 300 items to choose from,” said Toys ‘R’ Us Chief Merchandising Officer Richard Barry. He said the retailer was working “hard to make sure we have supply every day for the holiday season, but there is a wide assortment. We feel good about our position.”
The survey’s findings also highlight the challenges that Barbie faces as the decades-old doll angles to resonate with today’s girls. Barbie’s sales slumped 21% in the third quarter from a year ago, putting Barbie on track to report sliding sales for the third consecutive year.
For now, Mattel (MAT) benefits from demand for both “Frozen” and Barbie, as the toy maker makes many of Disney’s “Frozen” dolls. But Mattel earlier this year lost the merchandising rights to make the dolls based on Disney’s (DIS) Princess properties, a partnership that rival Hasbro (HAS) will take over in 2016.
On the boys side, the NRF’s survey results are less surprising. Lego toys were once again the top toy, followed by cars and trucks, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ranking third.