Holidays are coming…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 4th November 2016

It may be true that there are twelve days of Christmas and none of them are in November, but there are signs everywhere that’s it’s rapidly approaching, not least the fact that speculation over the impending John Lewis Christmas TV ad has reached fever pitch on social media (we did try to get them to give us an exclusive, but they’re not as friendly and amenable as Smyths and The Entertainer). And the fact that the country has been waking up to the sound of car windscreens being scraped this week will have put a smile on retailer’s faces: it is a universally-held belief that more wintry weather heralds an upturn in festive sales.

As, indeed, does the advent of half price toy sales. Tesco’s sale was brief (four days) but my word they shouted about it a lot in the press. Asda takes its turn this week, with a slightly different approach: a relatively standard toy sale got the ball rolling, but as from yesterday the activity was considerably ramped up with the introduction of the so-called Big Toy Rollback, which appears to act as a replacement for a specific Black Friday event. The Rollback will go on until 23rd November, considerably longer than many other supermarket toy sales, and the discounts appear to be generous and wide-ranging.

If some consumers bought early for Christmas, perhaps expecting prices to rise, it seems they may have been better off to wait after all: for better or worse, we’re once again conditioning the consumer to believe that hanging on until the last minute is likely to result in them getting a better deal.

On the subject of impending price increases, I was intrigued by an article which appeared on Bloomberg news this week, which you can read in full here. Essentially, it suggests that Chinese manufacturers are looking to exacerbate the already fragile post-Brexit pricing conundrum by raising prices next year. Of course, it’s a complicated equation, hugely influenced by supply and demand, but the one thing that comes over most strongly in the piece is the feeling amongst Chinese factories that price rises are becoming unavoidable, especially as the weaker Yuan is pushing up raw material prices.

Elsewhere, the Entertainer has announced that it will shortly be opening its first stores in Cyprus, via an agreement with the Ermes Group. The initial outlets will take the form of concessions in Ermes’ Debenhams stores, with the first stand-alone store targeted to open next year. I’m reliably informed that Cyprus has no shortage of toy retail stores: there are apparently six groups which run shops, while at the same time acting as local distributors. However, I doubt any of the existing toy shops quite resemble The Entertainer’s model, so it will be fascinating to see how Cypriot shoppers take to its hugely successful format.

There are several appointments of note to mention this week: Sara Taylor has been appointed head of UK sales at Spin Master, while Chris Watts has joined Click Distribution as national accounts manager and Philip Morris will henceforth be looking after sales and marketing for Bertoy in the UK and Ireland.

The November issue of Toy World has just landed on desks – you can read the digital version here. We’re now full steam ahead working on our Toy Fair editions – December (covering Nuremberg and Hong Kong) and January (highlighting London Toy Fair, Spring Fair, New York and with additional Nuremberg coverage for those companies who need a little more time to get themselves sorted out) – so if you want to be part of what will undoubtedly be the best and most engaging toy fair previews around, please do get in touch with Mark or myself soon.

Finally, Lidl’s Warrington branch has surpassed itself this week – this faux pas is so embarrassing that you almost suspect that a few Apprentice candidates were involved at some stage in the process. Muppets.