Toying with the World (Infographic)

Of course it’s important to treat kids occasionally with the newest toy or the latest game. But as the economy sinks and money gets tighter, it seems to me these types of purchases are also some of the first to cut back on. So I’m extremely surprised that even as families would reduce spending on groceries and school supplies, our toy budgets swell: Americans reduced average supermarket spending by about .5% from 2009 to 2010 while in the same period, toy industry sales grew by 2%.

I’m familiar with the temptation to overspend on kid’s toys. And I know the problem with buying for your kids is that usually the most popular game or specific remote controlled car is just the only thing that’ll do. It’s hard to keep your consumer sense in the midst of the trends that keep our kids and tweens primarily wanting all the same things.

My latest graphic on U.S. toy spending should remind you to check loose spending on that latest video game or too-frequently updating kids’ collections of non-necessities. Check out the surprising cost of our kids’ whims:



  1. I’ve always thought there were too many toys in the world; this just confirms it. The issue in my house is that there are many aunts and uncles (not to mention grandparents) who like to buy toys for my kids. So its not just parents!

  2. Happy kids always make life easier, even though the budget might be a little tighter, right?

    It doesn’t look like these statistics even factor in video games (correct me if I’m wrong), which I’m guessing would have made the numbers significantly higher! $60 for an average video game these is pretty crazy. I’m interested to see if they will increase game prices again with the new wave of consoles coming up.

  3. Nice infographic but what a shocking set of statistics. Is there any research which actually suggests that toys, volume of toys or amount spent on toys makes kids any happier? Or are we just caught up spending money to alleviate the guilt that we don’t spend enough time with our kids? I find my kids are often happiest when ‘dragged’ away from their games and toys, out spending time playing or exploring as a family. Saves a fortune too!

    • Actually, there is research (in the psych field) that shows that children only a need a few (open ended) toys to really thrive and be stimulated. If I can dig up the study, I will gladly post the link. (I was a preschool teacher for 8 years)

  4. This is another really interesting infographic. My only problem is with the graphics of the U.S. kid and her $280 worth of toys and the Chinese girl with her $20 doll. I don’t think that dumping loads of toys on our kids has made them any happier. I would be surprised if the Chinese girl actually felt the “lack” of toys in her life. She is probably just really grateful for that $20 and appreciates it a lot more than our kids do with their toddler-iPads. And it is crazy that the bulk of the spending is on infants and preschoolers. My child hardly plays with his toys. He’s much happier pulling all the books off of my bookshelf and building forts or dissembling our stereo system.

  5. You’re missing a space after GI Joe:


    should be


    I love you graphics.

    • You’re missing a “r” after “you”:

      “I love you graphics.”

      should be

      “I love your graphics.”

      • I only pointed out the mistake so it could fixed. But thank you, I’ll be sure to proofread my comments for typos more carefully in the future.

  6. How exactly do these statistics differentiate between “toys” that are bought by adults for themselves. Do they included gaming consoles or not. One way or the other the statistics will either be a gross over or underestimation of the actual amount of money spent on “toys”.

  7. Mattel has a large game department. I do spend money on their products, but it is for adult board games, not toys. Most of my daughters toys are from a thrift store (she is not even one yet, so we can get away with that.).

  8. Jason,

    Could I ask who/which agency did this for you? Graphically, this is one of the best infographics I’ve seen.



  9. Those statistics are pretty sobering, especially how little children the U.S. has in comparison to how many toys the country buys.

    Of course, there’s also collector/geek culture that probably accounts for most of those sales.

  10. Happy kids make life easier is what I think I read in one reply.. Kids can be happy digging up worms int eh back yard or making mud pies. They can have fun riding bike and all sorts of things. This statment is a parent who “buys” thier childs silence becasue they don’t want to be bothered with actually spending one on one time with thier chidren. Prents overcompensate for what they feel is there inadequecies by buying thier kids.

  11. Pam- I personally do that with my son, when he wants a new video game he needs to save for it, he has learned how to budget and about delaying gratification, as a result he has only purchased a few games that he really wanted.

  12. Hasbro is a giant plotting genius ~ they accidently struck gold with thousands of teen boys and adult men becoming obsessed with MyLittlePony-FriendshipIsMagic ~ kekkeke ~ not just for kids now ~

  13. Lots of info presented interestingly. However the “movie” industry is much larger than the number presented here. $9 billion is what the North American theatrical market is- that’s people going out and buying tickets. All the other ways we buy movies adds up to over $60 billion, and that isn’t all the business the ‘movie’ industry does. Minor quibble.
    Would love to see you make some comparative graphics on what we spend on stuff that is in limited supply- resource based- and what we spend on things in infinite supply- wisdom, experience, knowledge, compassion etc.
    Thanks Dad.

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  15. Let your child’s imagination guide toys games your playtime – and most of all, no crowds of shoppers clamouring for
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