For the toy industry, Autumn Fair has always played understudy to its Spring counterpart.
It really shouldn’t be.
Although the space in Hall 5 is significantly different at this time of year (most stands are smaller, there are far less Christmas trees, the fun and easy-on-the-eye fancy dress stands aren’t around, and, yours truly doesn’t have his dedicated Toy Demo space) the slightly more eclectic mix in Hall 5 this time of year actually works pretty well, from my perspective.
Away from the toy and gadget folk we know so well, there were a few real gems to be found – especially for retailers searching for footfall increasers.
A couple of favourites well worth a wander are snowfalls.co.uk – whose unit makes it look like there is real snow falling in your shop window - and Musical Box World, both will bring some drama into front windows, and are virtually guaranteed to slow passing shoppers down.
Apart from possibly installing an innovative shop window enhancements, a number of indies which I spoke to confessed that they’d be “having a go” at social media activity to draw shoppers in this festive season.
Social media experts might scoff at that last quote, but we’re talking here about smaller shops looking to engage with a hyper-local audience, which should be applauded. I have heard that on a local level, a couple of hundred “likes” on Facebook and a bit of online banter with local punters can make a world of difference.
It feels like this 2012 effect is going to last right through to Yule, placebo perhaps, but it is one we’ll all benefit from taking.
Peter Jenkinson is CEO of Toyology.tv and invites you to “like” Toyology on Facebook as it makes him feel popular.