NEWS

Friday 3rd April: Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 3rd April 2020

With news of another movie delay, B&M help for NHS staff, Amazon support for selling partners and more online help for families.

B&M is offering 10% discount to NHS workers to say thank you during the coronavirus crisis. Extending the discount normally offered to B&M employees, the discount can be redeemed in B&M stores when NHS workers show photo ID. The company said: “We’re so proud to be able to help support our NHS Heroes with all of their essentials, especially in such troubling times. Thank you to all of our NHS Heroes; we hope this helps keep you all stocked up while you protect the nation.”

Amazon has announced a 14-day FBA storage fee waiver due to the impact of coronavirus, as deliveries of many products were put on hold following the prioritising of certain goods. The waiver applies to products stored in Amazon UK, EU and US warehouses. The online retailer has also announced further measures to support merchants, which include waiving the 15th of April long-term storage fees for inventory stored in the US and Europe, pausing repayments and interest until the end of April for sellers with direct loans from Amazon Lending and waiving Strategic Account Management Services and Amazon Launchpad fees for April.

In a message to sellers, Amazon said: “We are committed to helping our selling partners during the crisis. As the pandemic continues, we will continue to evaluate the situation and work to reduce the impact on our selling partners, while meeting the essential needs of our customers and protecting the health and safety of our associates.”

Indie toy retailer Kerrison Toys, which has two shops in Norfolk, is continuing trading by fulfilling online orders and has taken to socail media to advise customers to check the toyshop’s website regularly for the most up to date stock information and latest special offers. Engaging with customers on Instagram, the store has published a series of inventive posts featuring Construction Colin, a large Playmobil display figure, whose antics in the empty store can be enjoyed by following kerrisontoys.

In the latest round of blockbuster movie rescheduling, the release of Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) has been deferred from  June 24th to December 23rd. Suddenly grounded, like many airlines currently, the film’s star Tom Cruise said on Twitter: “I know many of you have waited 34 years.Unfortunately, it will be a little longer. Top Gun: Maverick will fly this December. Stay safe, everyone.” Mattel is the global master toy partner for the franchise.

Providing free, online educational resources, VTech and Leapfrog have launched a new campaign called #LearnThroughThis. The company’s Learning Path portal will offer advice for parents, printable activities, educational resources and product suggestions, as families learn how to balance the needs of their children and their own new daily routines. An extended free trial of the LeapFrog Academy educational app is also available from today, as well as a reduction in the cost of the existing 6-month and 12-month plans.

In the US, VTech and Leapfrog are partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org to support classrooms impacted by COVID-19. AdoptAClassroom.org is working directly with schools to identify their needs and get tools in the hands of students. VTech and Leapfrog have pledged to match donations made at bit.ly/LearnThroughThisDonation up to $50,000.

Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling has launched Harry Potter at Home, an initiative that has teamed up with Audible, Bloomsbury, OverDrive, Pottermore Publishing and Scholastic. The platform includes word searches, quizzes, crosswords and drawing guides (“teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!”) among other activities. A statement on the site reveals that harrypotterathome.com is “…casting a Banishing Charm on boredom.” J.K. Rowling said: “The teachers, parents and carers working to keep children’s lives as normal and happy as possible while we’re all on lockdown deserve a bit of magic.”

The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, will be available for free in six languages in audiobook form on Audible, and in ebook form in 20 languages on Overdrive for the month of April.

The new hub, supported on the Wizarding World site (formerly known as Pottermore), follows the recent announcement of a temporary Open Licence which allows teachers to post videos of themselves reading the Harry Potter series aloud to classes.

David Walliams has also announced on Twitter that he is happy to extend the same courtesy to teachers wishing to read aloud any of his children’s books. However, he has gone one step further: “I have had lots of teachers asking me if they can use my children’s stories to make online videos for their pupils. Normally you have to get the author’s permission but please feel free to do whatever you like with my books at this time. Use them as toilet paper if that helps.”

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