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Tesco criticised for only making £1.5 billion profit, pay day sales spikes and a glimpse of the millionaire lifestyle…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 5th October 2012

The financial pages have been dominated by the news that Tesco announced its first fall in profits for 20 years. The tone of some of the media coverage seemed distinctly unsympathetic, and some indie retailers went a step further, openly gloating about the results. But let’s put them into perspective; they may have been down, but profits were still £1.5 billion for the first half of the year, which isn’t exactly shabby. Potentially more worrying for suppliers was the line in the accompanying press release about a reduction in non-food space going forward; precisely what that means for the toy aisles will be interesting to see.

We have now entered the all-important Q4, so how is business shaping up at retail at the moment? Talking to key players on both sides of the fence, it seems that sales are spiking significantly during pay day week. Whilst any spike must be considered a positive, retailers will certainly be hoping for more than one good week in four as we get closer to Christmas. This trend may also explain the timing of some of the major retail sales promotions at the back end of last month. Interestingly, I’m told that the Smyths promotion in particular was cited by independent retailers as having an impact on them. Conversely, the Argos ‘3 for 2’ promotion seems not to have bothered them anywhere near as much; indeed, there does seem to be a growing belief that Argos are more in competition with Amazon than High Street-based retailers. The fact that Argos went to the trouble of printing a 16-page flyer to promote the four day deal also raised a few eyebrows, with one industry observer describing it as “overkill”.

Talking of promotional flyers, whilst perusing Toys R Us’ latest missive I was surprised to see that it featured the official Pillow Pets and a – shall we say – parallel brand with exactly the same design on the same page – at the same price! Is it just me or is that a little bizarre? Not sure I’d be entirely happy if I was Mookie Toys…

Thursday evening saw a trip to ‘the smoke’ to attend a pair of promotional events (contrary to what some of you may think, this is actually a relatively rare occurrence for a humble trade media owner!). First up was Turner Broadcasting, who were unveiling their new programming slate, then it was on to the Mayfair Hotel to celebrate the launch of Millionaire Monopoly. Hasbro hired the Penthouse suite, invited a few ‘celebs’ – i.e. some people from ‘Made in Chelsea’ (not that I would have recognised them!) – and a room full of consumer journalists, and added some extra spice by promising to give away a real diamond to one lucky attendee. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me, so I’m back at the office this morning. The winner was actually someone from John Lewis, so if you do get her voicemail today…

Have a splendid weekend one and all.

(POSTSCRIPT: The John Lewis buyer who won the diamond – Elaine Hooper  – has donated it to the Toy Trust. Respect to Elaine for such a remarkably generous gesture).

‘Enjoying the Millionaire lifestyle’ at the launch of Monopoly Millionaire. I am reliably informed that some of these people are from a television programme called ‘Made in Chelsea' and one of them calls herself ‘Binky’. Not sure it would be quite my sort of thing. #showingmyage