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Argos leaves it late, The Daily Mail misses the point (again), and John Lewis profits from the Scrooges at Amazon…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 14th December 2012

11 more sleeps to Christmas. We’re very much in the closing stretch now, and thankfully the snow has held off so far, thus avoiding any unwelcome disruption to last-minute purchasing opportunities. The person who tipped me off a while back about one major retailer holding its sale back until two weeks before Christmas was clearly right on the money; Argos unveiled a major promotion this week, featuring a huge selection of toys with discounts up to 50% and beyond. They have certainly ‘bet the farm’ that consumers would be holding back until the last possible minute; it will be interesting to see if the gamble pays off.

Congratulations to Simon Philips, who has been promoted to general manager of Consumer Products for The Walt Disney Company EMEA. Simon has certainly enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past few years, but as I mentioned back in my Vegas Blog, it was good to see him come to the Irish bar during the England match for a meeting with a UK licensee. Not sure how many of the other big American corporates would have entertained that particular suggestion.

The Mail Online gets this week’s award for singularly failing to understand how the free market economy operates, after taking Tesco and Toys R Us to task for putting the price of Furby back up. Naturally, there was no mention of just how far retailers had been forced to cut the price in the first place, due to one or two of their number deciding to discount heavily. The fact that the product is in such short supply surely vindicates the decision to price it more realistically, something which the Mail also fails miserably to acknowledge.

John Lewis’ MD has publically stated that Amazon’s frankly indefensible stance on its tax responsibilities – or the lack thereof – has helped it to increase its online sales by a whopping 40% year-on-year over the past few weeks. Now, before anyone states the obvious, I am well aware of the difference between causation and correlation, but nevertheless I am of the opinion that consumers are in the best possible place to shame the guilty parties into reconsidering their position. Customer reaction has certainly had an effect on Starbucks over the past few weeks, and who knows, maybe even Amazon can be persuaded of the error of its ways if enough people switch their allegiance (although if John Lewis has indeed benefited from disgruntled Amazon customers, it may illustrate that it’s the slightly better off who can afford to adopt a moral stance).

The Toy Trust media auction for 2013 has now opened; toy suppliers can bid on any of the donated opportunities by clicking here. There are some great slots and spots on offer (including an ad in Toy World), and all money raised goes to a great cause. The auction will conclude at the Toy Industry awards evening on 22nd January.

Finally, there’s a second mention in two weeks for Rob Goodchild, who was chuffed to be featured in last week’s blog, which he referred to ‘Popbitch for the toy trade.’ I rather like that description, except, unlike the real Popbitch, I obviously have to leave all the really edgy stuff out. You’ll have to wait for me to retire and write my memoirs for that….