In this month’s Talking Shop, Sam Giltrow spoke to no less than 15 independent retailers to find out how the Christmas business was for them and how they see the year ahead.
Many of those we spoke to agreed that Christmas trading had started earlier, with fears of out of stock and the threat of possible closures looming, prompting shoppers to head to the High Street as early as October. Given the disappointment of Christmas 2020 when families were unable to meet and celebrate, customers also went out of their way to celebrate 2021, with many retailers reporting increased shopping cart spending.
“Christmas trading for us has been very good – up 60% from Christmas 2019, driven primarily by Pokémon, Lego and Funko,” said Dave Middleton, of Midco Toys in Burton-Upon-Trent. “I would say Pokémon has become a backbone for independent stores, and I hope that continues in 2022.”
“Cart spend has increased, especially among customers who use our loyalty program, and I’m sure it’s because they prefer to physically get their hands on what they want rather than buy online. and worrying about whether things will turn out or not,” said Brendan Will, of Aberdeen based Wills Toy Store.
Unlike some years, there was no toy or line that stood out this Christmas, with sales spread across the board and among other regular performers such as Lego, Sylvanian Families, Schleich, VTech, Playmobil, Barbie – and, of course, Pokémon.
Although some retailers experienced a few stockouts, many were unaffected, having ordered enough stock earlier than usual to cover demand. Nigel Kemp, of Halesworth Toy Shop in Halesworth told Toy World: “I managed to get most of the stock I wanted, despite all the problems, and strategically completed all my lines in September and October. I filled the shop with as much stock as I physically could, and I think it was a good decision.
Looking to 2022, there are still concerns about supply issues and price increases, along with the rising cost of living and the ongoing pandemic, but many retailers are hoping for more normalcy and certainty this year. .
“We start 2022 with a positive outlook and the belief that the local support we have received over the previous two years will continue,” said John Testori, of Bambola Toymaster in St Helier, Jersey.
Other retailers have been contacted: Karen Sasse, of J & J Wilson Toymaster, Bude; John Bentley, of Howley’s Toymaster, Weymouth; Brian Buckby, of Hayle’s Blewetts; Tim Evans of Worcester Toys and Games; Phil Heath, of Heaths Toymaster, Barrow-in-Furness; Dee Mellor, of Toys and Models Salter Street, Stafford; Libby Osborne, of Osborne Sports & Toys,Rushden; Lynda Bartlett of W & J Walker Master of Toys, Ballmoney; Ian Bailey, of Bailey’s Toymaster, Gorey; Maggie Tibbenham, of Imagine Toy Shop, Holmfirth; and Lisa Clay, of Armadillo Toys, Leeds.
To read the full article, which appears in the January issue of Toy World, click here.