Almost ten per cent of brick and mortar toy retailers across Europe have created new online stores in the bid to outplay the global pandemic and continue to reach their customers throughout lockdown, according to the results of a new survey from Spielwarenmesse.
The team behind Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse toy fair has carried out substantial research into how the industry has been weathering the storm of COVID-19 through a representative survey of 1,810 trade visitors from 42 countries, and 548 companies from 48 countries conducted this spring.
The research found that a sizeable 43.9 per cent of stores strengthened their already operational online platforms, 22.8 per cent ramped up their delivery services, 14.4 per cent stepped up their in-store collection schemes, and 18.3 per cent embraced new means of customer communications.
While highlighting the creativity of retailers and companies within the toy space, it also underlined the struggles faced by many. According to Spielwarenmesse, 45.6 per cent of shop owners have been forced to implement reduced working hours, while 18.6 per cent have had to make staff redundant.
According to the same research, toy manufacturers participating in the survey are likewise feeling the effects of the crisis, with 52.6 per cent enforcing reduced working hours, 43.4 per cent asking employees to work from home and 22.7 per cent having to let staff go.
At the same time, the companies are supporting their retail partners by extending payment deadlines and granting discounts, or by helping them to set up an online store or by sending products directly to their customers.
The measures introduced to soften the impact of the crisis are also giving rise to positive aspects. Manufacturers and retailers have created new methods of customer communication, launched digital offerings earlier than originally planned or discovered them for the first time. They have seized the opportunity to modify their business models, trialled new working models, improved in-house crisis management, or strengthened team spirit.
Respondents are also relatively optimistic about the year ahead, with 25.8 per cent of retailers and 32 per cent of manufacturers expecting to make up for the dramatic fall in sales through new sales channels, whereas 49.7 per cent and 45.5 per cent respectively believe their businesses will recover.
Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG, said: “The findings of the survey reflect the current mood in the toy industry. While the crisis is posing a huge challenge for trade and industry, it is also accelerating the implementation of new, forward-looking measures.”