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firstquarterranges


Quick off the mark


As toy companies begin to reveal their ranges for early 2014, Toy World spoke to the independent toy retailers to find out what they look out for post-Christmas, and what kind of effect they think an Easter weekend falling three weeks later than 2013’s will have on their businesses next year. Tom Roberts reports.


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momentum to help ease into Summer.” Many retailers I spoke to commented that the post- Christmas trading period is dominated not just by sourcing new launches, but accessory packs and line extensions for products that hit strongly at Christmas, especially as many children have Christmas money or vouchers to spend. Toy Galaxy’s Bhav Patel told Toy World that immediately after Christmas his stores often experience a surge of kids coming into the stores with wish lists of things they did not get from Santa. He explained: “We always ensure we have goods stock rolling into the New Year, but also try to focus on merchandising around lines which are reduced and that we wish to sell through on. Customers are always looking for a bargain, and what better


nce the busy Christmas trading period ends, most people are undoubtedly looking forward to at least a few weeks of calm before getting back into the swing of things, but not independent


toy retailers. Speaking with the retailers themselves it becomes apparent that the post- Christmas weeks are a key time for them to get the jump on the larger multi-channel retailers in Quarter One. Independent retailers are often able to exploit these early-year weeks by buying in the newest and most-sought-after products. Stuart Grant of The Entertainer is a strong believer in this fact, and said: “It’s been very noticeable over the last few years that those retailers who are not purely toy retailers are unable to move as quickly as us independents on getting in new items. For example, Argos is restrained by the issuing of its catalogue, and the grocers are limited by the shelf space allocated to toys. If an independent toy retailer is prepared to move fast on getting in the very latest items as soon as Christmas passes, there is a massive opportunity to be the first to market with them and gain some early-year


62 Toyworld


post-Christmas present can a young person get than bagging one of their Christmas wish list items at a good price.” Having experienced the same post-Christmas


surge, Stuart added: “We have kids coming in with their Christmas money wanting the latest construction set, or a pack of darts for their new Nerf blaster. At the beginning of every year we see a massive spike post-Christmas on the very newest lines available.”


Making plans and identifying trends The post-Christmas weeks are also a key time for taking stock of the situation and setting in motion the planning for the year ahead. Bhav commented that the biggest opportunity right after Christmas is to be able to start buying from an “almost clean slate”. He said: “It allows retailers to look at what did well, work on those lines and, by extension, move forward into the New Year with a better idea of the merchandise that works for them. It is also a perfect opportunity to make changes to your store if required. At Toy Galaxy we often change floor plans right after Christmas to keep the stores looking fresh, which ensures that customers walking through the door notice the change and encourages them to spend longer in the store.


Stuart Grant


Bhav Patel


We also focus on the new releases and make sure they are in-store and ready because the New Year always brings in a flow of great new items to put into toy shops.” Retailers will also be keeping a close eye on items geared around movie releases for the year, and Bhav believes that this is a key part of the post-Christmas planning. “With such big brands battling it out on the big screen, you’re guaranteed there will be great merchandise to go with them,” he said. “Another key focus area will be keeping a close eye on upcoming trends and the all- important playground crazes. With certain items already poised to be big, it is vital to monitor these and have them in the stores.”


The later it falls Following on from Christmas, one of the next key trading periods of any year is the Easter weekend; in 2014 it falls almost three weeks later than 2013. In the minds of the retailers, a later Easter


improves the potential for good weather over the weekend, and the increase in footfall this will hopefully bring. The Spring season traditionally sees the rise of Outdoor Toys and heavy metal items (trampolines, swings, slides, etc) appearing on display throughout March (irrespective of the state of the weather), and the other Spring lines attack the airwaves with advertisements in the weeks leading up to the weekend driving shoppers into stores. But the primary benefits of a later Easter is the extra time afforded to retailers looking to replenish their stock of the items that are selling well, and retailers being able to capitalise on the higher number of consumers out and about over the Bank Holiday. Over the following pages you’ll see a selection of the ranges available in Quarter One 2014.


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