Regulations over price slashing by online traders and supermarkets need to arrive soon before the High Street truly crumbles.
This is the message being trumpeted by indie toy retailers, as yet another High Street store readies to close due to consumers choosing online prices over buying via bricks and mortar stores.
Traditional toy shop When I Was A Kid announced it was closing its Cambridge store one year after opening, citing the changing habits of shoppers as the cause.
In an open letter, When I Was A Kid owner Paul Warner said that his ‘magical toy shop could no longer survive in the city that Cambridge had become’.
According to Warner, who owns a second When I Was A Kid store in Wellingborough, the store was attracting visitors, but not enough were actually parting with cash, preferring to find the same lines for cheaper elsewhere.
In his open letter, he stated: ‘Our magical toyshop can no longer survive in the city that Cambridge has become. It really is a sad day. If people walk in, photograph products then leave to go buy it online a tiny bit cheaper, that doesn’t help us survive.
‘As much as we loved being part of this wonderful street, we needed to pay the bills and to cover the high rent rates. So we have made the tough but necessary decision to close this magical toy shop.
‘People say that independent businesses are important to them, so please, if you want them to stay you need to support them, not just in lip service but by physically buying from them’.
In the wake of the news, toy retailers from across the UK have been quick to support Warner’s concerns for the future of the High Street, calling for regulations over price slashing and taxes paid by online retailers and supermarkets.
“This is absolutely an issue that is affecting us,” Helen Gourley, owner of ToyHub told ToyNews.
“It happens everyday, we see people come in, see the product they want and then buy it online for cheaper.”
Due to this, Gourley actively made the decision to rethink the lines she now carries in store, moving away from mass retail items and opting for those that aren’t so readily available on Amazon.
“But it isn’t the consumer who is solely to blame,” she added. “The Government has to step in and regulate the price slashing. It needs to be a level playing field before the independent High Street is in real trouble.”
Her concerns have been echoed by Kerisson Toys owner Steve Kerisson, who has lost count of the number of customers who ‘use the store as a directory’ before finding toys online for cheaper.
“We had one bloke in the other week looking at some LEGO. It was being sold £10 below cost on Amazon,” he told ToyNews.
“When I said I couldn’t match the price, he stood in front of me, and bought it online.”
Despite his tales of despair, Kerisson believes that remaining confident is key to surviving. Others however sympathise with those who are forced into closure.
Gourley said: “The action Paul is taking is a shame. However, it is totally understandable.”