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Business

Germany set for record year of toy sales

This holiday season, toy Death Stars and armies of miniature Stormtroopers are among the items filling kids' wish lists. The popularity of some movie franchises has Germans buying more toys than ever before.

The new Star Wars movie hasn't even been released yet, but toy stores in Germany are already stocking their shelves with Rebel Alliance and Imperial Army-themed playthings.

And with all the galactic gift-giving that is sure to happen this year, full-year sales are expected to be astronomical.

It could be the first time Germans spend more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) on toys, a potential increase of 4 percent over 2014, according to the Association of German Toy and Game Retailers Association (BVS).

Germans are spending again

The strong toy sales are indicative of a broader willingness to spend among German consumers that has helped Europe's largest economy regain some of the momentum it lost during the last recession.

Indeed, Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, cited a steady rise in private consumption when it raised its growth forecasts for 2017 to 1.7 from 1.5 percent in its latest half-yearly report.

The retail association HDE estimates Christmas shoppers in Germany will spend some 87 billion euros in November and December, when brick-and-mortar merchants make about a fifth of their annual turnover. For online retailers, holiday sales can account for as much as 25 percent of their yearly business.

Tie-in toys

This year, the toy business is being dominated by movie franchise tie-ins. In October alone, sales film-affiliated toys shot up by 50 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

As the release of the seventh installment of the Star Wars saga draws near, the prevalence of Star Wars-related merchandise is hard to miss - especially if you're only as tall as Yoda.

In the back corner of one toy store in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district, the lowest shelves were reserved for LEGO replicas of things like the Millennium Falcon and Darth Sidious' Imperial throne room, the scene of the epic duel that cost Luke Skywalker his hand in the Return of the Jedi movie.

Princess Leia vs. Princess Elsa

According to the BVS and the German Toy Manufacturers' Association (DVSI), one in five new franchise toys bear the Star Wars logo.

But other movies are also driving sales. Since Disney's hugely popular film, "Frozen," was released two years ago, it has not only been a success at box offices the world over but also check-out counters at countless retail stores.

"Now wherever you go, you see that snowman," said Christian, a 38-year-old father of two who was shopping at Spielzeugland on Friday.

"I got these Frozen books at the post office. At the electronics store there were Frozen calendars and the pharmacy had Frozen CDs," he said.

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