Barbie Sales Dropping as Other Dolls Take the Lead

By Cary Carr, Parent Herald July 20, 11:28 am

Barbie may no longer be the go-to toy for little girls.

Mattel announced that its second-quarter net income fell 24 percent due to a continued decline in Barbie sales and a $14 million write-down on the toy maker's Polly Pocket line. Its shares dropped more than 5 percent in morning trading, according to USA Today.

This is the fourth consecutive quarter of sales declines for Barbie, and the company's Monster High and other girl doll lines may be to blame.

Based on teen characters born from famous monsters, Monster High dolls boomed in sales after being introduced in 2010. BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson estimates that Monster High Sales have grown to more than $500 million in its three years of existence, compared to Barbie annual sales at $1.3 billion.

American Girl dolls are also going strong with sales increasing by 14 percent. Needham & Co. analyst Sean McGowan credits the pricey dolls' popularity to the recovery of the economy, according to The Globe and Mail.

"It's an expensive doll. It slowed down a little bit during the recession, but they're opening more stores and introducing more dolls and people can afford it," McGown said.

"We've introduced new franchises that have fueled significant category growth for the industry," CEO Bryan Stockton said. "The Barbie brand is likely being modestly impacted by their successes."

However, Stockton said Barbie sales are expected to pick up during the second half of the year due to the holiday season.

Some are speculating that Barbie's decline may be based on her unrealistic body measurements. Mary Shearman, a PhD candidate in gender, sexuality and women's studies at Simon Fraser University said there are a larger group of dolls for young girls to choose from as role models.

"There was a sense that you wanted to expose little girls to role models that were a little more diverse and not so stereotypical, so they tried to make Barbie active and gave her all kinds of activities to do and tried to make her more interesting than a beauty queen," Shearman said. 

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