Exclusive: Talking Shop – brace your elves!

Published on: 7th December 2021

Here’s the latest Talking Shop feature from our December issue, with Simon from Toy City, Steve from Kerrison Toys and Justine Elliott from Thorntons Toymaster.

Sam Giltrow spoke to indie retailers as they reach the business end of the year, having navigated the ups and downs of 2021 and adapted to the unpredictability of stock availability this year.

Simon Steel of Toy City, Wood Green in London told us that sales in his shop have been strong since October. He has also noticed customers’ basket spend increase dramatically: “Some are even buying everything for Christmas in one go rather than spreading it out over several weeks.”

Simon is looking forward to Toy Fair season. “It’s so important to be able to physically see new product. I go to the fairs with my father, Martin, who started the business, and we come back and brief the staff, who are then knowledgeable when the reps visit.”

At Kerrison Toys in Norwich, Steve Kerrison’s pragmatic about the current stock issues, saying, “As everyone is in the same boat, it hasn’t hurt us too much.” However, he has been impressed with certain companies that have maintained excellent levels of customer service. “It’s in their interests, of course,” he explains. “If they are getting their product onto our shelves, we are selling it.”

Steve also welcomes being able to view products at trade shows once more. “During the pandemic, there have been occasions where we have ordered stock and been disappointed with it,” he told us. “However, we have also had product that has been a nice surprise.”

Justine Elliott, from Thorntons Toymaster in Chippenham has managed to keep well stocked, albeit sometimes having to source alternative product. “With a healthy range of options for people to consider, we have by no means got empty shelves,” she tells us. “I think many are worried about deliveries not turning up because of driver issues.”

Justine and the team can’t wait to see new product at Toy Fair this year “In 2021, sometimes it felt like we were in the dark,” she complains. “But I am very hopeful that we will have a much better year next year.”

To hear more from our toyshop experts, and find out what is getting customers talking this Christmas, read the full article, which appeared in the December edition of Toy World here.


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