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RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD A Spring in toy retail’s step

As we leave behind the cold and wintery weather, will toy sales uplift in the spring months? We ask our panel of retail buyers how much the weather has affected business this year and their expectations for Q2

“Despite the bad weather we have continued to see strong

sales throughout Q1. Toy Kingdom had a very positive start to the year with double-digit growth on the same period last year. Construction, dolls and role play sales are growing. The luxury market within toys is certainly an area of growth. “[Our hopes for Q2 are]

very positive. There are major film releases coming up over the next few months, including The Lone Rangerand Iron Man 3, which are supported by some strong product from leading brands such as LEGO and Hasbro. There are also new releases of updated characters as well as new series appearing on TV, so we would expect an increase in sales of figures and play-sets such as Transformers and Ben 10.” David Miller, Director of Home, Harrods

“Trade in Q1 was really good for us. We had strong sales across all

categories and a real boost from Easter that means at present we are trading 17.7 per cent up on last year. “The weather definitely had an effect on sales, with us being forced to close a few of our stores early to ensure the staff could get home safely. But I also feel there was a positive effect from the snow. After it finished, during Easter, consumers were eager to get out of the house and we benefitted from this. “I am confident we will maintain our current trading performance in Q2, and with an additional store opening in June, it should really help to keep

62 May

our turnover above the figures that we saw in 2012, which was a fantastic year for our business.”

Brian Simpson, Manager, Toytown

“We’ve had a solid Q1 and seen positive like-for-like growth in stores and

online. We’re faring pretty well compared to the rest of market, and we’re showing modest single digit growth compared to last year. “The Easter trading period has done well for us, but it’s been driven by price promoting. We cannot keep Doc McStuffinstoys on the shelf; we haven’t had a red hot pre-school licence like this since In The Night Garden. So, new launches are showing some green shoots and these will hopefully drive us through into Q4.”

“In terms of the bad

weather, I think it’s actually helped us. A cold Saturday drives footfall to our stores. If we have a hot weekend, it destroys shopping. Families go to supermarkets, buy barbecue food and sit in the garden; they don’t go to major shopping centres.” Stuart Grant, Buying Director, The Entertainer

“Sales have been poor [in Q1], not helped by a lack of new, must- have

product or anything to stimulate interest in toys amongst children. “There’s no enthusiasm

for people to venture outside, let alone go into toy stores. [In Q2] we hope it stops snowing.” Ian Edmunds, Operations Director, Toymaster

“Q1 has seen good growth for us, with a 30 per cent increase on last year’s

trading. Weather hasn’t had a huge impact. The cold and the rain have discouraged the passer by footfall, as opposed to the core trade. The dry but cold weather at the start of April has suited us well and given us a boost as we moved into Q2. We have had a fantastic response to the Air Storm range by Re:creation. We are also finding a surge in arts and crafts products as customers look for value for money and extended

play time from purchases. LEGO Chima has also had a strong start which we expect to continue into Q2 and throughout the rest of the year.” Helen Gourley, Company Director, Toy Hub

“We had a fantastic Q4, and this trend carried on into Q1. With

virtually no Christmas toys carried over to markdown, we have traded very profitably. “Some early sun would

be welcome. A good start to sales of our outdoor toys range is key to trading well in this period, and really takes pressure off our sell-through targets. “Also, the launch of [kids’ clothing label] Nutmeg makes this an exciting time for Morrison’s customers. Marc Dean, Toy Buyer, Morrisons

Turn to page 59 to find out who’s part of our Retail Advisory Board. If you’re a toy retailer who’s interested in joining, please email

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