Exclusive: Games & Puzzles Talking Shop

Published on: 15th September 2023

Marianna Casal catches up with indie retailers to find out all about their Games & Puzzles offering, what’s selling and how they expect Christmas trading to be this year.

Games and Puzzles

Jim Harding from Bristol Independent Gaming spoke about his hobby store which is also a venue for gaming events. The Bristol shop serves as a community hub for gaming fans in the area to make friends and have fun doing what they love. Events include wargaming and tabletop board gaming tournaments, and now role-play days are being set up too. Sales have been fairly consistent all year with the exception of big game releases which cause spikes.

Phil Heath of Heaths Toymaster in Barrow-in-Furness spoke about this year’s best-sellers being the smaller, more portable games such as Mattel’s Uno and Winning Moves’ Pass the Pigs. He has also seen good sales from companies like Big Potato Games, which has been promoting its pocket- and full-sized games – including Herd Mentality and Sounds Fishy – on Instagram. Certain niche games from Asmodee have also been popular, such as Cobra Paw and Unstable Unicorns, and the store has expanded its Dobble offering with newer versions, inspired by McDonalds giving away Dobble cards with its Happy Meals.

At Rules of Play in Cardiff, this summer has been positive, according to Ian Davis. When families, couples and friends go on holiday, they visit Rules of Play to buy some portable games for their trips. Although the overall footfall trend has returned to what it was pre-Covid, the items customers are purchasing have changed quite considerably. The average spend per transaction is a lot lower – those medium-weight product sales have fallen dramatically, and now the cheaper, £20 games are more popular. Because of this, the store is putting a stronger emphasis on stocking filler ranges compared to previous years.

Finally, Mark Green of the Yorkshire Jigsaw Store talked all things puzzles. The family-run business based in North Yorkshire stocks more than 2,000 jigsaw puzzles from all the major brands and for all ages. Looking at the best-selling products since the beginning of the year, the list contains all the puzzles that were produced for the Coronation of King Charles. The latest Wasgij puzzles feature on the list too; a range which is always very popular, and Jumbo brings out new titles frequently to keep aficionados interested. New puzzles from Gibsons designed by artist Val Goldfinch have also sold very well.

To read more about each retailer’s analysis of the year as well as Christmas expectations, click here for the full feature.


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