Independent retailers feel the pinch in Q1

Post-Christmas sales not as strong for some, but stores ready to ride-out the storm.
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Indie toy retailers say they’re facing a tougher start to this year than they did in 2012.

With economic worries and the icy fingers of winter squeezing house bill prices up, it’s no surprise that many stores – and consumers – felt the pinch during Q1.

“We are considerably down this year,” said one manager of a toy store in Derbyshire.

“March has just been terrible. It’s like somebody has put a curfew on spending and there seems to be nothing you can do, you just have to ride it out.”

As big name discount stores selling discontinued lines join the High Street, this manager believes the independent toy retailer just can’t beat what local competition offers.

“I think people are finding money tight and aren’t bothered what they get for their ten pounds. If we try to compete on price we wouldn’t be able to stay here. You just can’t discount like that.”

The post-Christmas period commonly seems to fall flat for the independents, as consumers try to stretch their money that bit further after Christmas.

“It’s been a very quiet couple of months,” added Paul Wohl, of Argosy, Southend-on-Sea.

“This quarter is worse compared to last year. People aren’t spending the big bucks, and if they are, they aren’t spending them with us.

“People are just altering their shopping habits, they are spending money, but they’d rather come in and spend £5 on a pack of Moshi Monsters than £50 on a big LEGO set.

“But saying that, we do well on ranges priced from around £10 to £20.”

However, some indies had a brighter start to the year.

“We have had a very good first quarter,” Sarah Hook, store manager of Hoombletoys and Collectables, told ToyNews.

“We are well up on last year, which is a very good thing for us.

“We have done really well with a line called Shoulder Buddies from Golden Bear. We have also done really well with the new VTech Kidiminiz Puppies and Turtles, so we have had some good lines so far.”

Caroline Graham from Spot On Toymaster in Kilkeel, and Mark Stewart from Wise Owl Toys, say that Q1 2013 has been similar to 2012.

"Coming out of Christmas we have kept our stock very low, just because of the climate we are in," said Graham.

"We didn't want to be sitting on too much stock, but overall I think really we are not too bad.

“We've done quite well with Trashies and the Turtles have done alright, as well."

Stewart added: "We have had a few grim days, I don't think the weather has helped entirely, but it's been okay.

“This January to March period has been just about the same as it was during last year, really.

"Our stock coming out of Christmas has been on the low side, which I suppose can only be a good thing."

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