Weather warms up Outdoor toys

The long-overdue warm spell has seen outdoor toy sellers enjoy a "dramatic" upsurge in outdoor toy sales.
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NPD data showed in April that an early but sunny Easter had boosted the sports and outdoor sector by one per cent in value year-to-date, and as the good weather continues, suppliers are seeing sales continue to grow.

As early as April, outdoor products were starting to appear in NPD’s top ten retail charts, with Mookie’s Smart Trike making its second and third entry of the year in May’s figures.

Swingball has also shown double digit growth and Sharon Smith, marketing co-ordinator, Mookie said the good weather along with good stock levels and quick delivery have led to a strong summer for the company so far.

Andrew Coplestone, Halsall’s marketing director agreed: “This summer has seen a marked difference in outdoor toy sales. We have had and are beginning to have further better weather than we have seen since May 2007.”

He continued: “When the sun has shone, the uplift in sales has been dramatic. Most importantly we have had the good weather at the weekend. It really makes all the difference.”

Phil Ratcliffe, sales and marketing director at MV Sports has also seen an uplift in sales: “The first quarter was tough as many retailers had carry over from last year. However, May has been a fantastic month, possibly spurred on by the good weather.”

Manufacturers don’t see the current economic climate as a hindrance to sales, but predict it will drive sales of cheaper products.

Alex Kovacevic, brand and marketing manager at Hy Pro explained: “I do not think the recession has really had a heavy impact on our sector, with perhaps more of the focus shifting to the cheaper end of the market. I fully expect the grocers in particular to have a bumper year in this category, especially with less expensive own brand lines.”

Smith added: “The recession and credit crunch has made an impact, even on our ranges, particularly though on the higher priced ticket lines. Despite this, Mookie is having a great year.”

Suppliers are hoping that this will help to clear through old stock and leave space for more innovative, fresh products on offer in 2010. Kovacevik commented: “What the weather might do is make buyers more bullish during their selections now for summer 2010.”

Coplestone agrees: “This is great news for retailers as at last their stocks of seasonal product disappear and they can start to buy fun, innovative, licensed seasonal product with confidence for spring 2010. This isn't a situation they have been in since 2005.”


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SECTOR GUIDE: Outdoor toys

The outdoor and sports toys sector was worth £363m in 2011, up ten per cent thanks to some extremely mild weather and, unusually, enjoys two peak periods. We take a look at what some of the key players are promoting this year.

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