Authorities need to act quicker to stamp out counterfeit toys before they reach the High Street, according to our Retail Advisory Board.
Recent years have seen the black market of counterfeit goods reach new heights, as a 2015 report from the OHIM revealed that up to €1.4 billion was being lost across the EU to fake toys each year.
The same report highlighted that among the countries to take the biggest hit on account of counterfeits, the UK placed second, with 11.6 per cent of the toy and game’s sector sales lost to knock-offs each year.
Indie retailers across the UK are united in the belief that the problem is widespread, worsened by the standards set by giant online traders and the lack of action from local trading standards.
Some of the most notable lines hit by the counterfeiters in recent years have been Bananagrams, Loom Bands and Disney’s Frozen that suffered particular plight in the Middle East.
“Counterfeit toys have long been an issue in the industry,” said Helen Gourley, owner of the Scottish independent retailer Toy Hub.
“During the Loom Band craze, we had stalls pop up all over the place selling counterfeit goods and the local trading standards just weren’t doing anything about it.”
It is not just the sales figures that are put at risk when counterfeits enter the market, and in the run-up to Christmas last year, trading standards issued warnings over fake toys based on Disney’s film Maleficent that contained up to 18 times the legal limit of chemicals.
Discount retailer, B&M also found itself in hot water with Hasbro, when it was discovered to be selling counterfeit versions of the firm’s hit party game Pie Face.
But while the actions of the authorities in blocking these fake goods from entering the market has been criticised, retailers think that the consumer needs to be better educated on counterfeits.
Geoff Sheffield, director of procurement and licensing at The Toy Store, told ToyNews: “It is important that the industry is swift, not just to tackle the issue at source or indeed point of sale, but to also educate the consumer as to what is real or fake.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Toy Hub’s Gourley who found herself at the stinging end of the work of counterfeiters before she entered the toy industry when she was duped into buying fake Bananagrams products.
Gourley continued: “I think educating the customer is a key way to target this issue, by making people more aware of what products are counterfeit.”
However, not all are as sympathetic to those who fall for the counterfeiter’s deceit as Toy Town’s general manager Brian Simpson, stated: “We do not work directly with any factories and only source products from reputable suppliers. Anyone who goes outside of this is most certainly looking out for themselves and not their customers.”