Price cuts, Indian opportunities and some understandably angry feathered friends…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 16th November 2012

Somewhat inevitably, toy pricing activity has really taken off over the past week, with a raft of price-driven promotions launched, including 3-for-2 on all toys at Argos, 20% off all toys at TRU and ELC, and full-page ads in the nationals highlighting major price drops at Asda and Smyths amongst many others. And, of course, Amazon’s legendary Black Friday event starts on Monday (I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for it starting on a Monday and not an actual Friday, I just don’t know what it is).

Interestingly though, on this occasion, the ‘culprits’ were not necessarily the ones everyone perhaps expected. A price survey in the Sun covering 11 of the lines on the Dream Toys list showed that Smyths is currently the cheapest retailer on six of the items, Toys R Us on four lines, and on the remaining one…not a Grocer or Amazon was mentioned. Indeed, my well-placed sources tell me that news coming out of the inner sanctum at a very large grocery retailer suggests that toy sales continue to struggle year on year.  Perhaps non-foods – and therefore toys – are no longer the prime focus they once were for the retailer in question.

Toys R Us has taken the lead on Furby, with an eye-catching £39.19 offer (£48.99 minus the additional 20% discount) – nearly a pound below where we predicted the market price would settle in last month’s Allegedly column. But price is one thing, availability of stock is another matter entirely; whole website pages are already being devoted to showing which retailers have certain colours in stock and at what price. Some people are even selling Argos reservations for Furby (especially the purple one) on ebay! This, folks, is the world we now live in.

Elsewhere on the retail front, I hear that Ian Gibbs will be moving on from Harrods in the not too distant future, whilst I’m told that Mark Goodall has returned to the trade as outdoor buyer for Toys R Us. There are also quite a few rumours flying around about potential changes at Hamleys in the New Year, although specific details are not being released at this stage.

Toys continue to crop up in the media on a daily basis, and not just in a price-cutting context. Tesco’s TV ad featuring Furby (the one where Furby ‘impersonates’ Lionel Ritchie) has to go down as one of the better Christmas ads, as does the Barclaycard ad which features hundreds of toys (I particularly like the Transformer: “I’m a car, I’m a robot, I’m a car…”).

Our story about Paroh offering UK toy companies a route into the Indian market certainly made a few waves this week. I’ve already seen evidence of some very interesting responses which Paroh received within hours of us putting the article online, including some international heavy-hitters. The story is still in the online archive if you missed it, especially if distribution in the burgeoning Indian market is of potential interest to you.

I was sad to hear that Flying Toys suffered a break-in this week, with a significant amount of stock being taken. David and Janine are two of the nicest people in the trade, and it’s a pity that something like that should happen to them at such a crucial time of the year. I feel as if I should insert an appropriate swear word to describe the perpetrators at this juncture, but it will probably result in this piece being blocked by spam filters, so feel free to insert your own.

I’d like to thank Copyrights Licensing for inviting me onto their team at last night’s Licensing Quiz, which was held at Chelsea Football Club. Our team came a very creditable third, losing by just two points, which – being a Watford fan – is probably the narrowest defeat any team of mine has ever suffered at Chelsea. Most importantly, plenty of money was raised for the Light Fund charity, although I’m guessing there will be a few empty desks and the odd sore head in certain licensing company offices this morning.

Finally, have you ever wondered why the Angry Birds are so called? Take a look at the picture below and perhaps you’ll get an idea. Just what is Paul Reader doing? No wonder the thing is angry…