Business & Economy

Ports feeling the force of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

A fan with LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon and Star Wars BB-8 from Sphero at a live unboxing event on
A fan with LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon and Star Wars BB-8 from Sphero at a live unboxing event on "Good Morning America" TV show in New York City on Sept. 3, 2015.
Stuart Ramson/Disney

Listen to story

00:48
Download this story 0.0MB

If you’re heading out to the mall on Black Friday, you'll probably notice a lot of Star Wars toys on the shelf.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres next month. Analysts say it could be one of the biggest openings ever. Meanwhile, the movie's force is so great it has already had a significant effect on U.S. imports, which is especially felt at local ports.

U.S. toy imports are up 10.9 percent this year, according to Mario O. Moreno., a senior economist at JOC. He calculates at least half of the growth is is due to Star Wars, which is expected to sell a billion dollars worth of toys. Since most of those toys come from a galaxy far, far away – China – they must pass through Southern California.

“A big chunk of that – Los Angeles and Long Beach are handling those shipments,” Moreno said.

With many kids preferring ipads and video games these days, toy imports had been on the decline until last year. Disney's smash hit Frozen reversed the trend, with U.S. toy imports rising 3.5 percent in 2014. However, Moreno says Star Wars is on a whole other level.

“Star Wars merchandise is not only appealing to children, it's appealing to adults," said Moreno.

It also helps a lot of the toys are big and bulky – like the 48-inch Kylo Ren action figure – so they take up a lot of space on ships coming from China.