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Sunday trading and how not to pass instructions to your staff… it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 30th May 2014

I’ve been following the campaign to liberalise Sunday trading laws with interest. A groundswell of opinion does seem to be building which is broadly in favour of adapting the current restrictive laws to suit modern shopping habits. If you missed the story we ran on this subject earlier this week, you can find it here. I particularly liked the comment from Toytown Seaford’s Ginette McGee, pointing out that retailers are charged rent and rates for every day of the year, and that relaxing the law would help bricks and mortar retailers fight back against the online channel, which is truly open for business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

I’d be interested to hear from other retailers, large or small, with their thoughts on whether Sunday trading should be liberalised. A recent survey conducted by the Open Sundays alliance certainly suggests that consumers are in favour of reform, with 64% of respondents reported to be supportive of change (rising to 77% amongst 18-24 year olds, who – contrary to popular belief – are obviously not all in bed nursing hangovers on a Sunday).

Obviously there are counter arguments: would the additional staff and utility costs be covered by the incremental turnover? Would staff be forced to work against their wishes? Would small business owners lose valuable downtime, and end up literally ‘open all hours’? Can you put a price on work/life balance? All valid points for sure, but ultimately I think I err towards giving retailers the freedom to choose their Sunday opening hours for themselves. But I’m curious to know what those at the retail coal-face think, so feel free to email or call us with your thoughts.

While on the subject of retail, I was served by one store employee at the weekend who was wearing a name badge that had a list of helpful instructions on how to interact with the customer on the reverse. Except that – as badges are wont to do – it had turned around and I could see clearly how she had been told to behave. Notwithstanding the fact that I’m not sure people should need to be told to smile, if you are going to have a list of helpful suggestions for your store operatives, perhaps it’s best to keep them hidden from the customer. And no, putting it inside the till doesn’t work either (I’m talking to you Mr Sainsbury…).

Following last week’s blog piece about April and May trading, NPD’s Jez Fraser-Hook got in touch to confirm that year-to-date to the end of April, the UK toy market is showing healthy growth (+4%), with the first couple of weeks of May continuing the trend. So with the NPD numbers looking good, does this suggest that it’s the majors who are driving the increase? If that is indeed the case, let’s hope this upturn spreads to the independents soon.

There are a last few slots remaining at miPR’s Christmas Open House event in July, which targets the long-lead press as they prepare their festive articles and gift guides. The Entertainer will be revealing its Christmas top 10 at the event, which should certainly help to encourage journalists to come along. More about the event and how to get involved can be found here.

Finally, this week’s Radio Times includes a hugely enjoyable article highlighting a competition to find the best-loved BBC children’s TV character of all time. The piece – spread across six pages – is a veritable treasure trove of memories, and includes some fascinating facts and insights from icons of the children’s broadcast sector. Did you know that Bob the Builder was nearly called either Bill the Builder or Bob the Construction Worker, and that he never takes money off anyone for the jobs he does? Or that Disney rejected an episode of Charlie and Lola in which Lola caught head lice. Or that Nick Park started animating at the age of 13 in an attempt to emulate the Clangers? Marvellous stuff, and great publicity for the toy trade. That never happens when you work on magazines like Paint & Resin News, Brushes International, Process Bio-Chemistry and Blinds & Shutters (all of which I really did work on in my early years in publishing….and people wonder why I love working on a toy magazine so much).

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