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Close but no banana….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 3rd July 2015

After months of hype, the Minions movie was released at the end of last week, so you’d think that toy retailers would have been overjoyed, running round their shops shouting ‘banana’ or something unintelligible. In fairness some probably were (if so, we’d like video evidence please), but judging by a few phone calls and emails we received, others were a tad disappointed. The cause of their frustration was a Tesco promotion which wiped 33% off the price of their entire range of Minions products (not just the ones specially bought in to be discounted). The fact the promotion took place on the day the film was launched only seemed to exacerbate the situation. And it wasn’t just Tesco: days later an email popped into my inbox offering 50% off Minions toys at The Entertainer, although at least the offer was more selective this time.

It’s no secret that the British public likes a deal, and NPD has documented just how large a percentage of toys are sold on promotion. But the fact that huge discounts are being offered so soon in the selling cycle, when demand is presumably at its peak, seems a little sad and defeatist to me. The same thing apparently happened with Avengers a few months ago.

One prominent independent retailer even suggested that he would largely be steering clear of what he termed the ‘mega licences’ going forward, as he felt he just couldn’t compete with other retailers giving product away to artificially boost their market share (let’s face it, anyone can give stuff away on the cheap, as we know only too well….). Anyway, if any other retailers have any thoughts on the subject, I’d be interested to hear them. I’m certainly not suggesting that promotions aren’t successful, just whether it would have at least been sensible to wait a few weeks. Would parents really have refused to buy a £2.99 Minions blind bag for their kid unless it was reduced to £1.99?

The other interesting news of the week was the announcement by John Lewis that it would be charging £2 for click and collect orders under £30. Good for them for having the courage to take the lead on this. I’ve spoken to a number of major retailers recently who have privately bemoaned the cost of servicing online ordering services such as click and collect. There’s no question that it was eating into already fine retail margins to a worrying extent. Will other retailers now be brave enough to follow suit? And what effect will that have on online sales as a whole? It will certainly be something to keep an eye on moving forward.

In other news, I hear on the grapevine that the Toy Store buying team is growing: the latest recruit is Sam Moxworthy, who will be leaving Harrods to take up her new role shortly. Also Rubies Masquerade continues to expand its horizons, this time through the acquisition of mask company Mask-arade.

Finally, I just wanted to mention something that’s been bugging me for a while. To all corny / lazy journalists who insist on repeatedly falling back on the clichéd headline about things ‘making tills ring’, just a small reminder that it is 2015, not 1915 – tills do not ring any more. One wonders when these individuals last bought anything in a shop…