Some 1,740 parents with a child ranging in age between two and 12 completed the survey for the NPD Group, a global information company. The report looked at kids' overall play as well as the nature of goods being purchased, said Pam Wood, director of retail business at the NPD Group.
Wood said 89 per cent of parents had bought a traditional toy in the past year, with arts and crafts and sporting goods among the popular choices. Specifics on the type of sporting goods were not requested of survey participants. Puzzles, action figures, stuffed toys, construction sets and vehicles are among the items categorized as examples of traditional toys.
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Looking at the average spent per buyer over the past 12 months, traditional toys slightly edged tech with $203 spent versus $193.
"The biggest gap, frankly, was being driven by sporting goods because it was so much more important in Canada, and they are a more expensive play item to purchase," said Wood. "I think that that's telling ... another indication that parents are ensuring that they're balancing that spend, making sure that their children have balanced playtime."
Wood said parents were asked a long list of questions about what's important to them when they makes purchases for their kids. The value of toys adults played with as youngsters was among the top reasons cited, she noted.
"Sixty per cent of parents actually think that there's value in having kids play with those traditional type of toys, and parents feel quite strongly about that," she said. "I think it is quite important, and that's what's driving the role of traditional toys — or what's maintaining traditional toys — in this day and age when electronics are so prevalent."
Still, the appetite for tech-based products remains strong among youngsters.
Wood said downloadable app games were the top item requested by kids (30 per cent), while 21 per cent requested a physical video game. Comparatively, arts and crafts were requested by 19 per cent of children. Dolls also landed in the top five, Wood noted.
"Clearly, when parents are purchasing items, what the child has requested is important," said Wood. "But they're looking for things that are educational, that promote good behaviour and that also have good brand reputations — and that's important to note as well.
"It can be a great product, but they need to feel comfortable about the safety of that product and that the brand is reputable and trustworthy."
When asked what impacts their child's desire for toys, parents said what their friends were playing with was the top influencer (72 per cent) followed by what kids see in stores (65 per cent) and items advertised on TV (50 per cent).
While parents buy items for their kids regularly, some have scaled back their spending in the last year, with 26 per cent citing economic reasons as a factor. The survey found 37 per cent pointed to lower disposable income as the reason behind the shift.