Toy World spoke to independent retailers about how they are rising to ongoing challenges as they approach peak season.
As another summer trading period comes to an end and thoughts turn to Q4, independent retailers reflect on what has generally been a positive season for many, with stores back open and consumers eager to support their local high streets.
"Business has been better than expected in recent months," comments John Testori of Bambola Toys, Jersey. "We trade online and instore and since reopening, we have trended up each month, with the exception of August which was slightly down on July. Overall, we feel hopeful for the upcoming season. Consumers still seem to lack confidence to go into bigger towns and shopping centres and prefer shopping on their local high streets, which benefits stores like us."
For All the Cool Stuff in Fordingbridge, the increase in staycations this year proved beneficial, and triggered a rise in tourist footfall over the summer period. Owner, Dave Tree, adds: "Fordingbridge is a tourist area, so being able to reopen from June was encouraging news. Footfall has been down at a local level: however, in July and August at least, that was compensated by tourism footfall, so overall, trade has consequently been on par with what I would expect to see for this time of year."
With Christmas now fast approaching, Toy World looks at what has been selling well and how independent retailers are approaching the peak season, following a raft of unprecedented challenges.
"Our purchasing habits have been forced to change for Christmas this year," explains Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Banba Toymaster, Dublin. "We will have to reduce orders simply because we are selling less, and I don’t expect to have the level of footfall in the city centre that we usually experience during the gifting season. My main objective now is to support the Toymaster catalogue - we have noticed that consumers are eager to organise their Christmas shopping early this year, so we want to be prepared."
John adds: "For this Christmas, we have loaded up on recent best-sellers, proven licences, such as Paw Patrol, Pokémon and L.O.L. Surprise!, as well as and a multitude of products featured in the Toymaster catalogue, which attracts many of our customers from September onwards. It’s important to stay optimistic and not expect a bad Christmas; bringing in fresh stock and new ranges is essential."
"We will focus on offering products that are fun, exciting and new, as ever," concludes Sam Walker of Wally's Toy Shop in Thame, Oxfordshire. "However, in the current climate, we will have to be more selective. Christmas is our favourite time of year in the shop and although it will be very different this year, we are feeling optimistic."
Read the full Talking Shop article in the October Licensing Special issue of Toy World, here.