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Retail Only Dedicated monthly retail coverage

FROZEN and Loom Bands may be topping the Christmas predictions lists this year, but fl exibility is the real key to a successful festive period, says our Retail Advisory Board. While it’s no surprise that planning for the festive season commences in January, retailers admit that “keeping things fl uid” through the Christmas countdown is the best way to adapt to any changes in the market. “We start planning our Christmas promotions and activities in January,” Stuart Grant, buying director at The Entertainer told T

o yNe ws. “But the reality is, we

are planning right up until December as the market changes and moves.” So while the family-run

toy giant has already set its sights on what it believes will be making the wish lists of kids across the UK this year, Grant suggests it is the fi rm’s adaptability that keeps it on top of changing trends. “Our plans won’t

really change until mid- September now, but after that, they are fl uid and will alter as opportunities or changes in the market come up,” he continued.

RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD “There are things that

we are predicting right now to be strong for Christmas that may not perform to expectations, so we can change things tomorrow if we choose. “It’s about remaining

fl exible, and that’s what makes us successful.” However, not all retailers

are able to enjoy this level of adaptability. When faced with a growing

pressure from suppliers, coupled with the frustration of product shortage, many fi nd themselves making their Christmas commitments as early as May.

“With suppliers being

increasingly careful about the amount of stock they commit to, it puts more pressure on the retailer to place their orders as early as possible to try to guarantee the stock they want,” explained ToyTown manager, Brian Simpson. “This isn’t something that I enjoy having to do, especially as we are now calling our stock commitments as early as May.”

But despite the

frustration, Simpson is able to see the positives in making those earlier calls.

“It places an emphasis

on how much detail we go into in our sales to try and catch trends, which is a positive aspect of the current situation,” he said. “Plus, I wouldn’t be doing

anything diff erent if I was in [the supplier’s] shoes, so I can’t complain.” Meanwhile, the online

retailers believe they are in one of the better positions to react quickly to changing trends. “We start planning our Christmas strategy at the beginning of the year,” said Neil Mitchell, toy buyer at Shop Direct.


Opinion Data

Flexibility is key to a successful Christmas this year, says retail

ToyNews’ Retail Advisory Board discusses the best strategy for tackling early Christmas promotions By Robert Hutchins

“We then look at specifi c

promotions and activity all the way up to Christmas itself. That’s the beauty of being online. It allows us to very quickly react to what’s going on in the market.” But while promotional

activity is kept fl uid through the year, the online retailer likes to gauge the products likely to be big Christmas sellers by launching autumn and winter ranges as early as July.

“This gives us great insight and allows us and our suppliers to react and make sure we have as much stock available for Christmas as possible,” said Mitchell. So what will retailers be ensuring is sitting on their toy shelves in time for the Christmas frenzy this year? Results are certainly unanimous that the current craze for both F

rozen and Loom Bands is

likely to carry through to the festive season. “This year, more than most we have seen some big trends coming in, such as F

rozen,” Linzi Walker,

Argos’ trading manager for toys and nursery told T

oyNews. “Anything F rozen

related and I think we are on to something. That and Loom Bands, they are a huge craze.”

ToyNews takes soundings from its Retail Advisory Board on toy industry issues. The current members are:

Stuart Grant, The Entertainer


Murray-Young, Toys R Us

Linzi Walker, Argos

Brian Simpson, Toytown

Clare Barton, Sainsbury’s

Neil Mitchell, Shop Direct

Annalise Quest, Harrods

Steph Strike, Asda

Ben Redhead, Firebox

Steven Bradley, Boots

Helen Gourley, Toy Hub

Miles Penhallow, Play-Room

Karla Mitchell, XBite

August 31

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