Did strikers boost retail sales?

Published on: 2nd December 2011

It’s been a week of fairly unrelenting doom and gloom in the media, so I’m not going to make matters any worse by focusing too closely on the Chancellor’s musings about the state of the economy. However, it did seem mildly ironic that just as George Osborne was doing his best impression of Eeyore, many retailers were enjoying probably their busiest Wednesday in memory, courtesy of the strike action taken by public sector workers.

Toy World sent its correspondents –ok, it was actually my wife and youngest daughter- to Watford High Street to assess the situation, and they reported scenes reminiscent of a busy weekend in the run-up to Christmas. Long queues everywhere, shoppers carrying handfuls of bags….if I didn’t know better, I’d think that Christmas was actually ‘happening’ after all.
The extra store traffic wasn’t just confined to the day either; I found myself in a long queue at the Tesco checkout that evening , and the manager who was pressed into emergency checkout service admitted to me that Wednesday was Tesco’s lowest staffing day, and management hadn’t had the foresight to change the usual arrangement. They clearly didn’t believe that this Wednesday would be any different to the norm….*

But November salaries are now nestling in peoples’ bank accounts, and some retailers – Firebox included – believe that now is when the fun really starts. I do hope so. Toy Fair season is almost upon us, and it would be good to enter the fray on the back of if not a great, then at least a respectable Christmas (and preferably one without too much stock carry-over).

*If any toy retailers would like to confirm that my very personal observations are accurate , or if I’ve got it completely wrong, and this Wednesday was another unremarkable trading day in an the toughest retail climate anyone can remember, feel free to email me –