The recession has forced consumers to pause when shopping for movie and TV show merchandise.

Licensing revenue declined 5.6% last year to $5.7 billion, according to official figures released by the Intl. Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn. (Lima) today.

For the first time this year, the org is hosting its annual licensing confab in Las Vegas, where the major studios are showing off their biggest properties.

The licensing biz was especially affected during the second half of the year, when the recession started to really kick in, and consumers spent less.

Eight of nine major license categories tracked by Lima fell last year; the exception was the college market, which saw a 3.5% sales increase to $208 million.

Overall, the character segment of the licensing biz continues to generate the most coin from royalties, repping 46% of the industry.

Movie and TV character-related merchandise earned $2.6 billion last year, down nearly 4% from a year earlier.

Corporate trademarks, fashion and sports round out the top categories.

“Given the current economic climate, the revenue declines are not unexpected,” said Lima prexy Charles Riotto. “However, a strategic, thoughtfully implemented licensing program remains a very effective way for businesses to build their brands, drive incremental revenue and position themselves to thrive in a rebounding economy.”