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Catalogue conundrum….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 24th July 2015

The Argos catalogue arrived last weekend, so I’m sure many people have been engrossed in its contents ever since: retailers looking at the opening pricing gambits, suppliers seeing how their own products look on the page and assessing how their competitors have fared. I’m sure toy companies will each have their own take on how well their products are represented. The catalogue I picked up is significantly smaller in dimension than last years’ version, and as might be expected, the smaller page size appears to have visually impacted some products more than others. It also arrived accompanied by a whole raft of flyers and inserts, rather like a Sunday newspaper – there was certainly a lot of Argos-related paper flying around over the course of a weekend, and I’m sure many suppliers have paid heavily to be featured. All of which singularly failed to impress my eldest daughter: when I asked her if she wanted a copy, she replied “Why bother – if I want something from Argos I’ll look it up on the website.” It seems that the transition from catalogue to digital is already firmly underway in the minds of younger consumers.

On the subject of Argos, I understand that former Tesco buyer Tara Mortimer will be taking over the role of girls’ buyer as Lindsay Rogers is going off on maternity leave.

Having reported widespread consumer apathy for Amazon’s Prime Day sale event last week, I was interested to see that the company quickly went public with a statement saying how successful it had been and confirming that there are plans to make it an annual event. So what is the real story? Sadly we may never know, as Amazon is notoriously reticent when it comes to engaging directly with the media. They say it was a huge success, but as Mandy Rice-Davies once famously said, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?”  My suspicion remains that the vast majority of the people who signed up for Amazon Prime to gain access to the special offers will cancel when the free trial ends after 30 days. And if the sale does happen again next year, I feel certain that Amazon will endeavour to make sure that the offers are a whole lot stronger than this year’s selection.

Both Hasbro and Mattel have announced their second quarter results over the past week, and both reports indicate solid progress. Fisher Price was the jewel in Mattel’s crown; with sales rising by 9%, the brand now represents a third of the company’s overall sales. Meanwhile Hasbro cited sales of Marvel and Jurassic World as being its Q2 bright spots. Q2 is never going to be a make-or-break period for any toy company, but nevertheless it offers a sense of perspective and bears out the feeling that 2015 is shaping up to be a respectable year in the global toy world.

Finally, for all those who enjoy playing the official Fantasy Premier League game, you might like to know that we will be running the Toy World Master League again this year. Last year’s triumphant winner Peter Griffin (no, not that one) will no doubt be returning to defend his crown, so feel free to join in and offer him some healthy competition. The code to join the league is 3336 – 26101, and the website is http://fantasy.premierleague.com/. I even have the opportunity to select a few Watford players to bolster the ranks of my Fantasy team this year, although whether that will prove to be a successful strategy remains to be seen. I just hope that Soccerstarz and other companies that produce football- related ranges will be adding Watford players to their collections soon. If they do, at least they know that one toy magazine will be giving them some nice coverage.