THE TOYNEWS BLOG: It's price crunch time

Or is it? Retailers have so far held fire on the discounting of this year's hot toy lines.
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It’s usually Dream Toys which signals the start of 'top toy' price-cutting, but we're in November and so far the inevitable heavy toy discounting has yet to materialise.

Last year Asda, Toys R Us and Argos engaged in a price war in early October, slashing the prices of top lines like Let’s Rock Elmo and the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, in some cases by half, while also introducing a multitude of other attractive savings.

Other supermarkets like Sainsbury’s followed suit – determined to not surrender footfall to competitors. So toys became the perfect example of a ‘loss-leader’ in 2011.

And they fit the loss leader bill perfectly - because when a preparation conscious parent is drawn into a supermarket to purchase presents, they’ll likely load up on other, higher-margin Christmas essentials too.

At the time many independent toy retailers I spoke to remarked, with disappointment, that the discounting had started much earlier than it had in other years.

Today, after having a quick peruse around the top retailers sites, it appears that prices on most of this year’s ‘hot’ lines are still close to the RRP.

A couple of weeks ago some of the majors did start their Christmas toy promotions, but these mostly only involved coupon-style offers and discounts on old stock.

So in terms of toy discounting, the best (or worst, depending on which way you look at it) is yet to come.

And the current state of play can obviously only be a good thing. With the hot lines holding their value, it's great news, not just for independent retail, but for our larger toy specialists too.

Earlier this year, when we asked a panel of independent retailers whether they paid any attention to Dream Toys (and the rest), the reply from more than one owner of High Street toy shops was: “Yes.”

One added: 'I look at it and then don’t stock those lines, because they’re the ones the big boys discount.'

Of course, I’m paraphrasing a little. But, if the big boys do continue to refrain from discounting this year’s top lines, will those who were reluctant to order the big lines end up regretting it?

Either way, expect some form of price-slashing to start on 'Black Friday'. Traditionally a US retail event celebrating cheap consumer electronics, has been doing Black Friday promotions, of which toys have been a big a part of, since 2010. This year Amazon is running its Black Friday deals week from November 19th to 25th.

Mrs Crunch

Somewhat flummoxed by the lack of Christmas discounting activity, The Sun has introduced a new regular pullout which aims 'to find value for mums'.

This time, Mrs Crunch has calculated that the combined price of the 2012 Dream Thirteen is a pricey £573, and has found the cheapest deals for each toy.

Check it out, (click to expand)

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