For all those retailers who have been complaining about the unseasonably mild weather, it looks like you got your wish! Hopefully the reports of snow have been exaggerated, otherwise retailers will no doubt still be complaining next week.
Meanwhile, as the clock counts down towards next week’s Black Friday event, speculation mounts as to whether it will be another spectacular success or more of a damp squib this time round. Opinion seems divided, so I guess we’ll find out more in seven days’ time. There are even those who are suggesting that October’s slightly lacklustre retail sales figures are due to consumers holding back on spending in expectation of deals on Black Friday: overall sales fell 0.9 per cent month on month in October – the worst monthly performance in a year – while online sales decreased by 0.8 per cent compared with September. But with some retailers scaling down their Black Friday plans, it will be interesting to see whether the event lives up to the hype this time round.
Interestingly, I interviewed the Tesco buying team recently and they admitted that the Clubcard points double-up promotion was far more important to them than Black Friday. I suspect the same is probably true of Sainsbury’s and its Nectar points promotion. Both promotions are currently in full swing, although Sainsbury’s only lasts a week, while Tesco’s lasts until Christmas. I have to admit, the appeal of a promotion that boosts demand over a period of time rather than concentrates it a single day is completely understandable.
We’ll be running the aforementioned Tesco interview in our January Toy Fair issue. I was given great access to the buying team, and have accrued some absolutely fascinating material. I was hugely impressed with what they had to say on a wide array of subjects, and I promise it will be well worth reading. On the subject of our Toy Fair issue, if you haven’t booked your ads for this edition yet, this is a gentle reminder to get in touch with Mark or I soon. It’s going to be an absolute belter, and there’s still time for you to be involved.
The gossip grapevine has been relatively quiet lately, but I have heard that Andy Clempson will shortly be leaving Mattel, while Katie Rollings recently parted company with Chuggington owner Ludorum. We wish them both well with whatever comes next.
The dates for next year’s BLE have caused some consternation after it was revealed that the show will clash with Yom Kippur in 2016. Attempts to move the show to avoid the clash were unfortunately unsuccessful: organiser Advanstar has confirmed that the problem will be rectified for 2017, but it will inevitably have some impact on next year’s event. I guess it just highlights the paucity of options available to exhibition organisers in London since the closure of Earl’s Court, and the relative failure of ExCeL to establish itself as a viable alternative.
Congratulations to the organisers of last night’s Light Fund licensing quiz: a great turnout as ever and once again a fantastic amount of money raised for charity. The fact I ended up on the winning team was a nice bonus, although I could have done without the security alert at Baker Street on the way home (reading about a car being blown up in a controlled explosion outside the tube station you’re about to head off to is slightly disconcerting).
Finally, speaking of Sainsbury’s, some people believe that the retailer has outdone even John Lewis in the quest to deliver the best Christmas ad this year, creating huge demand for Mog books & toys in the process. We used to read the books to our daughters when they were young, and it’s great to see a whole new generation of kids discovering this charming character. Suggestions are already being made that Sainsbury’s has deliberately under-produced stock, with toys being purchased and resold on eBay at a profit by some greedy individuals (as the range is raising money for Save the Children, it makes the practice even more nefarious). As both Lego and Hasbro have recently found out, the media love to trot this argument out to suggest cynical behaviour, but Sainsbury’s is surely just as innocent as the aforementioned toy companies – sometimes things just turn out to be more popular than predicted. But nevertheless it’s probably good news for stockists and manufacturers of grey plush cats (cue retailers taking their stock of white cats to the back of the store to ‘dirty’ them up…).