Exclusive: In safe hands – indie retailers reflect on summer trading

Published on: 8th September 2020

Indie retailers discuss summer trading, the latest customer sentiment, what’s selling well and how they are preparing for the Christmas season. 

Indie retailers Paul Carpenter

Paul Carpenter, Totally Toys, Bristol

With nearly three months of physical, in-store trading under their belts, following a difficult lockdown period for retail, the general feeling among indie retailers is a positive one. Alongside the obvious challenges, there have been plenty of opportunities for the high street. With summer 2020 being all about staycations, being based in a tourist area was certainly one of the benefits fuelling retail in recent weeks.

Situated in Whitstable, Toys ‘N’ Trends, managed by Helen Bellenie, has been very well supported by tourists as well as the local community since reopening its doors. “We are seeing a definite increase in visitors, driven by our coastal location and the number of holiday homes for tourists in the area,” enthuses Helen. “We are busy, but in a manageable way. Reopening was nerve wracking to begin with, but it only took about a week to get used to the new routine.”

The preference to shop local is another advantage for many bricks and mortar stores across the UK. Paul Carpenter of Totally Toys, Bristol, comments, “For many, shopping is enjoyable and a great way to socialise and interact. As we feel our way back to some sense of normality, shops in localised, residential areas should benefit from people working from home and those with a more flexible working lifestyle, as is becoming more common.”

With high street footfall gradually increasing as consumers get used to a new way of shopping, complete with mandatory masks and social distancing, toys have remained resilient, with encouraging sales across a number of categories.

“Since reopening L.O.L. Surprise!, Pokémon trading cards, putty and other pocket money pieces have been best-sellers, ” explains Amanda Alexander, owner of Giddy Goats Toys in Manchester. “Kids are keen to spend the pocket money they’ve saved up over lockdown and the grown-ups are keeping an eye on their spending, viewing lower price point items as desirable. However, I’m also seeing strong sales for water pistols, Playmobil, Lego and baby toys.”

With September now underway, thoughts turn to the all-important festive season. After a challenging year, Osborne Toys, which celebrated its 65th anniversary this year, is hopeful about the upcoming season. “It’s hard to predict what Christmas will be like this year. But families have had a tough year with youngsters off school for so long, being home-schooled and missing their friends. By the time Christmas comes around, kids will get their reward – and hopefully the adults will too!”

Click here to read the full Talking Shop article in the September issue of Toy World, featuring further comments from John Anderson Toymaster, Moons Toy Store and Toys Galore.


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