But the toy maker has found a solution to the problem. Lego has expanded distribution at major retailers like Walmart and Target, and the figure has doubled in China, told CNN Business, Niels Christiansen, CEO of Lego Group.
Lego has weathered the global toy slowdown and increased sales in the US, Europe and Asia. Despite toy sales that fell 2% worldwide in 2018 after four consecutive years of growth, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Lego has expanded its space on the Walmart and Target shelves and has participated in toy events that these retailers have organized in stores as the holidays approach. Target, for example, remodeled toy sections in some stores and add oversized billboards and displays, including a giant Lego slide three feet above the aisles.
"It's very important to be in physical stores," said Christiansen so kids could touch and play with Lego sets.
The company is also focused on online expansion. Walmart, for example, has created an online toy lab where kids can play with the Lego Creator Pirate Roller Coaster. Amazon said the Lego Creator Mighty Dinosaurs toy was one of the best-selling toys on its website during the holidays.
In the US, Walmart, Amazon and Target account for the majority of retail toy sales, and toy makers need to develop strategies to take advantage of their reach, according to Jim Silver, general manager of TTPM, a site Web dedicated to the review of toys.
Despite Lego's success last year and its forecast of sales growth in 2019, traditional toy manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out from the latest video games and tech gadgets.
"Children are getting busier and have less time to have fun," Christiansen said. "It's a struggle for time."
Lego, however, has announced plans to invest in new products to stay relevant, including finding ways to harness new technology such as augmented reality to develop its brand among tech-savvy kids. Earlier this month, she launched Lego Hidden, an AR app that allows kids to interact with their Lego sets and hunt ghosts.
"Lego Hidden is a great example of innovation," Silver said.
China is also an important part of Lego's strategy. Sales in China recorded double-digit growth last year when the company opened new Lego stores, including a flagship store in Beijing. In 2019, Lego plans to open 80 additional stores in this country.