Nearly there. Judging by the number of out of office replies I’ve received over the past few days, a fair number of people have already broken up for Christmas, so I may well be writing this Blog for a considerably smaller audience than usual. But not everyone has the luxury of a 17-day festive break. To the retailer who put on Facebook last weekend that he hadn’t had a day off in the last forty, I know exactly how you feel. Curating our massive January edition is always a feat of endurance, so we’ve been working flat out over the past few weeks, and we still have a long day ahead to get the issue over the line.
Of course, for toy retailers it’s not quite over yet either; their year can be made or broken by a good (or indifferent) December, and with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday this time round, there is an expectation that sales in this last week before Christmas will be vital in delivering strong festive trading results. According to NPD, the last time that Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday, the final weeks’ numbers were far higher than any other week’s trading that year – let’s hope that 2016 sees this pattern replicated.
The evidence that things are indeed going to the wire can be seen in the fact that, earlier this week, several retailers – including John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – stopped taking click and collect orders to be delivered pre-Christmas. One can only assume that this means there is a considerable backlog in the system. This would also bear out what I was told in an interview with Tesco earlier this week – that there has been a major shift to online business this Christmas. The interview came about after Tesco got in touch earlier in the week, prompted by comments in last week’s Blog about their aggressive promotional strategy in recent months. I was invited to go in and hear their side of the story, so despite the fact I really should have been tethered to my desk, I really couldn’t turn the opportunity down. Hence, I went off to talk to John Driscoll and Dawn Lavalette (and director of general merchandise Rob Hattrell also joined us for a while)– the resulting interview will appear in our January issue. I won’t put any further spoilers here, but suffice to say it will be well worth reading.
In the meantime, I’m sure everyone in the toy community is looking forward to a relaxing festive season to recharge the batteries before Toy Fair season kicks into gear in January. So, this is my final Blog – and Toy World’s final email newsflash – of 2016. We’re all off to go and lie down in a darkened room and reflect on all the uncharitable things we said about the people who didn’t send their January copy in on time. We’ll be back on 3rd January, so all that remains is for me to wish our readers a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of the entire Toy World team. On that note, I’d like to wish Clarabel all the best on her global travels in the New Year, and welcome Salma to the team. We’re all looking forward to catching up with as many of you as possible over the coming weeks. 2017 is going to be a fascinating year on so many levels, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.