Boys looking at the toys through a shop window in Pamplona, and choosing their items for Olentzero or the Three Wise Men’s list. Photo credits: EFE/Jesús Diges.

Spanish toys conquer the world with innovation and quality

The Spanish toy industry – 75% of whose sales are concentrated in the Christmas season – is expected to reach the 1700-million-euro mark of 2017, a 2% increase over the previous year.

The Spanish toy industry gets stronger in December. You can watch TV commercials at all times. Your mailbox gets flooded with catalogues. It is only natural: Santa and the Three Wise Men from the East are doing their shopping, and toys are at the top of most children’s lists! Lots of toys made in Spain make their way to the Christmas stockings and trees of children in many different countries. Spanish toymakers are going through their busiest time of year, as 75% of their sales are made in December (15% ahead of Christmas and 16% just before Twelfth Night).

This year, the Spanish toy industry is expected to reach at least the same mark as in 2017: 1700 million euro, which was 2% higher than the previous year. Although growth was less than expected, it still was higher than average for the global industry (+1%). In countries, like Mexico or Russia, toy sales had remarkable increases (+12% and +11%, respectively).

According to The NPD Group, the Spanish toy market grew by 7% from January to September 2017, with negative performances in October-November and activity pick-up in December. Thus, the year ended on a positive note for the sector.

Domestic sales totalled 1152 million euro in 2017, whereas exports yielded 600 million, rising by 13.6%. Spanish toys are appreciated in other countries, where they are synonymous with innovation, quality and safety.

Second top toymaker in the European Union

Top buyers of Spanish toys are Portugal and France, with sales going up by 7.8% and 5%, respectively. In other countries, Spanish toys saw spectacular growth, as in Greece (+95%), Poland (+38%) and Belgium (+30%).

Broken down by segment, dolls had the sharpest rise: +19.7%, with a turnover in excess of 188 million euro. Other toy categories with rising sales were sports and outdoor play (+7.7%), board games and jigsaw puzzles (+1.5%) and toy vehicles (+0.1%).

To a great extent, growth in the Spanish toy industry is driven by original design and non specialisation by type of toy, thanks to which toymakers can change up to 65% of their catalogues every year. Furthermore, Spain stands second in the European Union in terms of R&D investment and employment in the toy sector, accounting for 7.5% of workers.

Fiercest rivals rising in the East

The Spanish toy industry is comprised of 215 toymakers. 96% of them are SMEs, which have created 4000 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs. The country’s top toymaking areas are Valencia, Catalonia and Madrid, with 40.27%, 27.14% and 14.03% of all companies, and 90% of all workers and total turnover.

Most companies belong to the Spanish Toymakers Association (AEFJ), the only national organisation for the sector. Established in 1967, AEFJ protects the interests of its members and deals with sector-related issues. The 91 firms belonging to it account for 70% of workers and 80% of sales (1048 million euro) in the toy industry.

Our country’s strongest competitor is China. It is the world’s largest toymaker: 90% of the toys sold worldwide have been made in China. Moreover, it produces the world’s cheapest toys too. Thus, the best way of beating Chinese manufacturers is choosing quality and innovation over price.