The sharp rise in sales of puzzles, games and building sets (widely publicized and extremely logical in these “shelter in place” times) has seen the continued emergence of “kidults” — grownups filled with nostalgia and perhaps seeking out new activities – as a driving force in those categories that was underway even before the pandemic struck.
The crisis has only added fuel to the fire. “In my opinion, some of this growth [in games, puzzles and construction sets] is coming from adult sales,” says Julie Lennett, NPD Group’s leading toy authority. “We’re seeing strong growth in adult puzzles, expensive and more complex LEGO sets, and ‘adult’ games like Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan. Even adults are looking for a way to escape the chaos in their lives and toys can be a great distraction.”
For example, in the UK and Australia, Lego’s Technic Bugatti Chiron and Land Rover Defender construction kits – both of which have more than 2,000 pieces and are priced around the equivalent of US$280 — were among the Top 10 selling products in the games/puzzles/building sets category in the weeks ended March 21 and 29, respectively, according to NPD. And the UK’s John Lewis department store chain said sales of puzzles in the week ended March 29 were higher than during the Christmas holidays and that more than half its stock – including all 1,000-piece versions, which are mostly aimed well beyond younger age groups — was sold.
“Kidults is something that applies to puzzles, because it is something that reminds you of your childhood. In the current situation, it is definitely helping to drive sales,” says Melissa Dragonas, a Product Manager at Ravensburger USA. Indeed, the company’s sales of puzzles rose 370% during the past few weeks, and while children’s products led the category — Disney Collector’s Edition, Villainous, Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4 puzzles were top sellers — adult puzzles “weren’t far behind,” says Dragonas.