“Easter is the second biggest selling time behind Christmas,” according to some of the UK’s leading toy retailers.
Traditionally a gifting period renowned for its chocolate eggs, the spring holiday season is now championed among many toy vendors as the ‘Christmas of the first three quarters of the year.’
"Easter is big for us," The Entertainer’s Stuart Grant tells ToyNews. "It’s a key period within the first three quarters of the year and it’s our biggest peak until we start getting into October.”
These same retailers are reporting a ‘massive increase in demand for toys as Easter gifts,’ as opposed to their chocolate counterparts.
"Sainsbury’s traditionally does well with customer footfall for Easter," explains Sainsbury’s buying manager, Clare Barton. "It is absolutely the second biggest selling time behind Christmas and we have certainly seen an
increase in demand for toys over the period.
"We have become increasingly aware of how important it is to offer an alternative to chocolate, and as more emphasis and concern is placed on childhood obesity, we know that families are as likely to buy a toy as they are a treat."
Of course, NHS warnings are not the toy industry’s only means of celebration at Easter, as the holiday has always been a strong period for pocket money toys.
“Easter is an interesting time of year. It’s the first holiday break after the Christmas and New Year rush,” says Toytown’s Brian Simpson. “We definitely see a large uplift in pocket money toys, and we always ensure we have plenty of these items in stock for that week.”
With family holidays coupled with the prospects of warmer weather, the season is also a time when outdoor toy sales begin to see an uplift.
Shop Direct’s Neil Mitchell says: "For many of our customers, Easter brings a feel good factor of time off with the family.
"It generally signals the start of spring and we typically see customers starting to plan for summer by purchasing large outdoor toys such as trampolines, pools and swings.
“A combination of Easter gifting, bank holidays and outdoor garden play results in Easter being a key selling period for toys, only beaten by Christmas."
However, some, like Helen Gourley of ToyHub, are wary of spring’s unpredictable nature.
"Easter trade can really vary for us," she explained.
"It’s not so much to do with the timing, but the weather.
"This year we are noticing a lot more customers talking about going away over the Easter period as they are so fed up with the rain. That said, Easter is important to us, and even if they do, hopefully we can persuade them to take a couple of travel games with them."
But wary or not, the two week Easter holiday – often coinciding with a major movie release – is a time for retailers to pull out all the stops, with promotions, instore events and more.
“We put a lot of focus on promotions and the activities we have in store,” continues The Entertainer’s Grant. “We have character visits and focus our windows or prime space on the key movie event, which this time is Spider-Man.”
“I love any holiday period throughout the year,” echoes Toytown’s Simpson. “We strive to maximise in-store
activity and sales during these periods to continue the growth that we have seen in the last few years.”