NEWS

Tuesday 12th May – Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 12th May 2020

Today, Halfords is on a high, while Poundland’s MD warns that high streets must be protected from lows. Plus, news from Hasbro, Lego and new movie Scoob!

Shares in bike retailer Halfords rose dramatically on Monday, following the government’s announcement that people should consider cycling to work as the coronavirus lockdown is eased. Halfords is Britain’s biggest cycling retailer with a market share of about 25% and is also a market leader in e-scooters. Transport minister Grant Shapps has cautioned that public transport operating under social distancing measures would potentially satisfy only a tenth of the pre-crisis capacity in many parts of the UK, and announced measures including e-scooter trials being brought forward and the UK’s road infrastructure being adapted to accommodate more cyclists safely. “Saturday’s evangelical Department of Transport speech could have been written by Halfords’ CEO, with its very helpful remarks on cycling and e-scooters,” analysts at Peel Hunt commented.

According to Halfords, only 4% of commuter journeys are currently made by bike, while cycling accounts for just 2% of all journeys. The retailer has launched a campaign that will provide a free “32-point” check on neglected bikes, to help people get ready for the post lockdown commute.

Barry Williams, managing director of Poundland, has outlined why he believes there should be more support for the high street once lockdown is over. Writing in the Liverpool Echo, he paid tribute to his staff, saying: “I am so proud of my colleagues at Poundland for going above and beyond to keep most of our stores open and to serve their communities.”

Barry went on to highlight how the lockdown has proved just how important the retail sector is and called on the government to provide support to ensure it is protected in the future. “Online shopping was already transforming our high streets before this crisis. The pressure from uneconomic rents and business rates was becoming too much to bear for some. The disparity between the rates bills for online operators and those investing in high streets was nothing short of a national scandal. So, it’s vital that the route that gets retailers out of lockdown is high street friendly.

We now know they’re the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, and they will need serious help. So, when the time is right, let’s make sure that help goes first to those that need it most. Small shops that have seen their business evaporate and don’t have deep pockets. Let’s see the florists and bookshops being asked to open first so they can bring colour and culture to our town centres. Let’s see the coffee shops, music shops and gift shops reopen. And then let’s campaign to encourage people to say, “Hi to the High Street” again.”

In the run up to the digital release of Warner Bros. new movie Scoob! on May 15th, a #ScoobDance challenge has accumulated over 2b global views and raised awareness for the upcoming home movie debut. The challenge was launched by 14-year-old TikTok celebrity dancer Jalaiah Harmon, with original music from Movers+Shakers. The social media star has been joined by a host of key influencers showing off their dance moves and encouraging followers to do the same. The film will be available for a 48-hour PVOD rental or for premium digital ownership.

As the use of video conferencing apps becomes the new normal for both business and social interaction, Lego has unveiled a collection of virtual backgrounds that can be downloaded and used to liven up video calls. Part of Lego’s Let’s Build Together campaign, there are nine backgrounds available, including Benny’s Space Squad from The Lego Movie 2, a generic Lego space theme, a brick dinosaur and brick jungle creatures. The backgrounds can be downloaded at lego.com and used with most types of digital meeting software.

In the US, Hasbro has teamed up with Pandora to create soundtracks to accompany the company’s most popular board games. A “Bring Home the Fun with Sound On” collaboration has curated a collection of playlists, which each feature 15 songs to help bring different games to life. A game of Operation can be played to the accompaniment of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart”, while those participating in a game of Twister can enjoy “The Twist” by Chubby Checker and “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. We’re not so sure about the suggestion of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” to inspire players of Trivial Pursuit and “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton for The Game of Life, but the soundtracks should make lockdown game nights even more entertaining.

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