COMMENT: Elephants in the room

In the same way that Nuremberg is almost too big to ?do? properly as a show, there are almost too many things to comment on this month. And too many things that ?the industry? does not want commented on.
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Are we allowed to say that Toy Fair seemed a little quiet this year? Or is that being unsupportive? Is it far better to ignore that, pretend that attendance figures really don’t matter and that the show is actually thriving in a competitive market, rather than spark a debate which might improve the event and as a consequence attendance? Is that more supportive? What would be the best thing to do? Pull back the green curtain or leave it be?

What should our take on the TRA awards be? Where would you even start?

It matters not. That sort of stuff perhaps only matters to a small group that purport to represent the industry. For the trade at large the bigger issue this year is pricing.

When Mattel’s CEO and, on a more local level, its UK boss warns of price rises of around eight per cent this year that’s of a more pressing nature than a bit of industry glad-handing.

Rising oil prices, labour shortages, a rise in the value of Chinese currency and all that extra safety testing are costs which can no longer be absorbed by manufacturers and will have to be passed onto retail.

At a time when belts are being tightened and consumers are nervous about a credit crunch, how is a near ten per cent rise in the cost of a toy going to go down?

It could be that a little bit of inflation will do retailers no harm, after all hasn’t the complaint all along been that toys are being devalued? Sadly, the margins are not likely to improve by a similar amount.

The days of dirt cheap toys may be coming to an end and once again the industry will have to adapt, as it always seems to.

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