Exclusive: Letter from America – prepping for the holidays

Published on: 2nd June 2021

This month, Rick Derr of Learning Express Toys, Lake Zurich, explains why early planning for the festive season is more important than ever this year.

Rick starts his June column with a welcome back message for UK indies, noting that the majority have been in lockdown far longer that toy stores in the US.

Onto the matter at hand, though – planning for the holidays, particularly November and December, when over 40% of toy sales traditionally take place. Rick believes Christmas 2021 will be somewhat different to previous years, for a number of reasons. Post-Covid holiday shoppers will hopefully be heading to stores operating at full capacity, product availability and domestic distribution are challenging, and the effect of online shopping means consumers are now more than ever opting to have larger items delivered straight to their homes.

“In any year, it is hard enough to select the right products, sizes, colours and styles for the holidays six months out, and this year we will face the additional challenges mentioned above,” he says. “These issues have caused us to review our promotional strategy, for fear product may not be available, which runs the risk of disappointing and alienating our customer base. But final decisions on stock must be made soon.”

Rick outlines the various stages in Learning Express’ holiday season prep and what they involve, offering a month-by-month breakdown of how the successful American toy retailer approaches Christmas.

A big question mark for Rick this year is whether the current “Squidget” trend (Squishmallows and fidgets) will continue and at what level, and he offers his thoughts on what he thinks the months ahead have in store. One thing is clear though – he’s optimistic, saying: “I am confident that 2021 will go down in history as one of the best indie toy years in history – guaranteed.”

To read the full Letter from America, which was published in the June issue of Toy World, click here.


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