Analysis: 2020 Was a Banner Year for Board & Card Games. What Will 2021 Hold?

Pattern Data Science

November 12, 2021

The holidays are upon us, which means that, for a lot of people, board game season is really ramping up. Shorter days, colder weather, and more time with family makes for a perfect time to break out an old favorite game, or to stock up on new games to give away as gifts.

With gametime on our minds, we wanted to dig into our data to learn more about the state of board games across the country. Did all the extra time spent at home during the height of the pandemic drive big sales for board games? If so, which games got the biggest pandemic bump? How big is the holiday shopping season? And which games have been the most (and least) popular over the past couple years?

We dove deep into our data to answer these questions and more.

Which board and card games have been the most popular so far this year?

There are countless types of games out there. From highly complex and intricate, to simple and broad, there’s certainly a game out there for you and your tastes. But which ones have been the hottest sellers this year?

Check and mate. When it comes to popular games, there’s no unseating the king, and chess has been far and away the most popular game this year.

The classic card game Uno, with its simple rules and low price point, wasn’t far behind in the #2 spot, however.

Another card game, the ever-popular Pokemon, was a strong number three, ahead of three standard board games: Clue, Risk, and Monopoly.

After a strong #7 spot for playing cards, we round out the top ten with Jenga, Dominos, and Settlers of Catan.

So there’s your leaderboard for the most popular games of 2021 so far. But what about last year? What kind of impact has the pandemic had on demand for board and card games?

What kind of impact did COVID-19 have on sales for board and card games?

Many of us have spent a lot of time at home since March of last year, so have board and card games seen demand skyrocket as a result? If so, which games were the ones that got the biggest quarantine boost?

Let’s start with a really broad look at monthly demand for all the board and card games in our analysis starting in 2019.

There’s absolutely no question that the first months of lockdowns and social distancing resulted in a huge surge in online demand for board and card games. March 2020 saw a 52% increase in demand vs the same month in 2019, while April experienced a 34% increase.

Demand then fell to just below 2019’s levels by June, but we saw a mostly stronger holiday shopping season last year as well.

2021 started the year with demand ahead of any previous year, but, as you’d expect, it failed to live up to last year’s huge springtime surge. October did see a slight increase in demand compared to last year, though, suggesting we might be in store for all-time high demands this holiday shopping season.

To put an even finer point on just how big the beginning of the pandemic was for demand for board and games, here’s a look at weekly demand since January 2020:

The first weeks of lockdowns saw online demand for board and card games surge to levels typically reserved for the height of the holiday shopping season.

Which board and card games got the biggest early pandemic boost?

Now that we’ve established how big March and April 2020 were for board and card games, we next wanted to see which ones were the most in-demand. To find out, we took demand for each game during those two months and compared it to demand during the same months in 2019.

Here were the top 15 biggest winners:

If you thought that a real-life pandemic would deter people from playing a board game called “Pandemic”—think again. The game, in which players work to discover cures to a deadly pandemic, saw a stunning 469% increase in demand in March and April last year compared to the same months in 2019.

The family-favorite game of Scattergories was next on the list, with an impressive 223% increase in demand. Other family-friendly games saw demand more than double, including Phase 10, Life, and Pictionary.

Those months were so big for board and card games that only a few in our analysis didn’t experience a year-over-year increase in demand: Sorry (-25%), Exploding Kittens (-19%), Azul (-19%), and Connect Four (-9%).

The real story, of course, is the success of Pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at monthly demand for that game:

There’s no doubting that the game enjoyed prolonged popularity throughout all of last year, with it receiving a substantial holiday season bump as well.

Here’s a weekly view, for an even closer look:

Demand for the game actually picked up in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, dipped slightly during the first week of shutdowns, then skyrocketed immediately after.

The popularity does appear to have been somewhat short lived, however, as 2021 has seen demand drop to 2019 levels for most of the year.

Which board and card games get the biggest holiday shopping season bump?

With the holiday shopping season approaching, we next wanted to see if there are games that get especially large bumps during the holiday shopping season last year. To avoid this figure being skewed by the early COVID surge, we decided to take average demand for November and December and compare it to average demand during the summer months (July through September).

Here’s what we found:

Last holiday shopping season, chess was the hottest item by far, seeing demand surge by 225% during the holidays compared to the summertime average. We have a theory as to what was driving chess’s shocking success, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Other big winners were Pictionary, Ticket to Ride, Trivial Pursuit, and Chutes and Ladders. Again, Pandemic experienced a significant holiday surge even despite it’s mega popularity during the spring.

The holidays were so big for board and card games that only two of them in our analysis failed to see demand increase during the holidays: Risk (-2%) and Uno (-3%).

Let’s take a closer look at chess, as something pretty interesting appeared to drive its demand to new heights.

Hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit drove a huge surge in holiday shopping demand for chess last year

That’s right, our analysis strongly suggests that The Queen’s Gambit, a hit Netflix series that premiered in October 2020, was why chess received a larger holiday shopping bump than any other game in our analysis.

Let’s start by examining monthly demand for chess since 2019:

As you can see, chess saw demand go up during the holidays in 2019, but to a much, much lesser degree than the incredible surge we saw in 2020.

To put it into perspective, demand in November and December 2019 were 36% and 79% higher than the summertime average that year. In 2020, November and December saw demand surge to a stunning 204% and 222% above the summertime average.

In fact, the show’s popularity bled into this year as well, with demand remaining quite high in January and February, and even outpacing the early pandemic bump we saw in March and April.

A look at weekly demand serves to bolster this hypothesis:

The Queen’s Gambit released on Netflix on October 13th, 2020, and by the week of October 25th, demand had increased by 114% compared to the week before the series came out. By the week of December 6th, demand for chess had surged to a whopping 301% over where it was before the series premiered.

While demand has evened out, it has remained consistently higher throughout 2021, and while we wouldn’t expect it to match the heights we saw last year, we expect the category to receive at least a moderate bump this holiday shopping season.

Which games appear to be on track for a strong 2021 holiday shopping season?

Lastly, we wanted to see if any of the games in our analysis were performing particularly well this year as we head into the holiday shopping season. To determine this we compared demand during September and October 2021 to the same months in 2020.

Here were the games that saw the biggest year-over-year increases in demand during those time frames:

Settlers of Catan appears to be particularly hot this year, at least heading into the holiday shopping season, with demand up 94% during the months heading into the holidays this year.

Hungry Hungry Hippos and Ticket to Ride were next on the list, with Connect Four and chess rounding out the top five.

Let’s take a closer look at Settlers of Catan:

Demand for the game surged in May and has remained high the rest of the year as we enter into the holiday shopping season. If we see a similar holiday shopping surge for the game this year as we have the previous two years, then many shoppers may find themselves having a hard time finding the game if they don’t act fast!

A lesson for brands

This year’s holiday shopping season is shaping up to be yet another big one for board and card games of all types. And considering the supply chain issues on the horizon, we wouldn’t be surprised to see all types of board games struggling to stay on the shelves.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, a hit TV show might drive one of the world’s oldest games to new heights of popularity, or a worldwide pandemic might actually increase sales for a board game about a deadly disease. Or an already popular game like Settlers of Catan may simply be setting up for a surprise surge in demand.

Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these trends and more in the coming weeks and months.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

Explore Our Ecommerce Resource Library

Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)
Sept 13, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 13th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon scales back on US warehouse facilities Amazon is shutting down two facilities with 300 employees, discarding plans for 42 facilities, and delaying plans to open a further 21 buildings across the US. The ecommerce giant is scaling back on hiring as well as the expansion of its vast delivery network, as it was left with an excess of space following its rapid expansion during the pandemic. [Read more on Business Insider](https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-closes-2-facilities-scraps-plans-42-new-buildings-report-2022-9?r=US&IR=T) --- Other Marketplace News --- JD.com is ‘betting’ on ecommerce grocery market Amidst a slowing economy and a decline in ecommerce, Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com has increased its urgency to seek new growth engines. The company is looking to boost its online grocery business through offline partnerships and expansion into lower-tier cities, where it may be able to unleash more consumption power. [Read more on The Star](https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2022/09/08/chinese-ecommerce-giant-jdcom-bets-big-on-online-grocery-lower-tier-markets-amid-slowing-economy) Shopee shuts operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico Sea’s ecommerce arm, Shopee, has shut local operations in some LATAM countries but will continue to maintain cross-border operations in a few markets. Latin America is Sea’s most important region following South-east Asia, accounting for close to 19% of its revenue in 2021. The move away from these countries is largely due to increased levels of macro uncertainty and rising interest and inflation rates, and rather putting a focus on its core operations. [Read more on Straits Times](https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/seas-shopee-shuts-operations-in-argentina-chile-colombia-mexico-sources) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Instagram scales back in-stream shopping elements Instagram is re-examining its approach as it hasn’t been able to make ‘fetch’ happen. ‘Fetch’ in this context being the online shopping trends which have become all-consuming in China, and what Western social platforms have been hoping to add into their apps to make them more addictive and revenue-generating. Consumers have not been swayed by the latest shopping tools on TikTok and Instagram, leading to Instagram scaling back its in-stream shopping program. [Read more on SocialMediaToday](https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-scales-back-in-stream-shopping-elements-as-it-re-examines-its-app/631276/) FedEx Express supporting the growth of cross border ecommerce FedEx express has expanded its international commerce shipping service to four more markets across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region in an effort to support the strong development of ecommerce in this region. Three of the fastest growing markets, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are leading Southeast Asia’s ecommerce sales, which is set to reach $100 billion by 2023. [Read more on Post & Parcel](https://postandparcel.info/149889/news/e-commerce/fedex-express-supports-the-growth-of-cross-border-e-commerce-within-the-amea-region/) India ramps up hiring as companies prepare for shoppers Ecommerce companies are getting ready for the festive season by rapidly expanding their temporary workforce. As ecommerce in India grows, the country is predicted to have 372 million online shoppers by the end of 2022. The festive season this year, running from October to December, is expected to see a two-fold increase in logistics and delivery alone. During this period, companies are predicted to add 20% more to their existing workforce base, with a 8-10% higher pay scale compared to last year. [Read more on Business Insider India](https://www.businessinsider.in/business/ecommerce/news/the-great-indian-festival-of-hiring-e-commerce-companies-gear-up-for-indias-shoppers/articleshow/94000346.cms)