Argos' Linzi Walker on the retailer's Christmas toy line-up

Argos has enjoyed another robust year thanks to healthy toy sales, while a brief spout of warm weather has contributed to a growth in outdoor toys. Here, Linzi Walker, trading manager for toys and nursery at Argos, talks the success of movie licenses and why consumers should watch this space in the lead up to Christmas.
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How has this year been in terms of toys for Argos?

Actually it’s been pretty good and robust. Obviously we have had some particularly nice weather recently, so that has boosted our sales quite a lot, and outdoors is quite a big category for us at Argos. We definitely made hay while the sun was shining, put it that way. So we have had a really good early season on that front.

But it has been quite an interesting season from an indoor toy perspective. Lots of collectables, with the LOL! Surprise dolls and the Hatchimals launch with the Collegtibles range, so that’s been quite interesting. I also think this year is going to be about the movies and lots of the summer blockbusters that we have already seen. For example, Transformers was out last month and then we have got Cars 3 and obviously Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the back end and My Little Pony. So I think it will be a year of the movies, which I think will stimulate a lot of desire for children.

Is there a particular category in general that stands out at the moment?

Honestly no, I wouldn’t say there was one stand out category. Obviously with the outdoor toys it’s been very much paddling pools and trampolines and that kind of outdoor play. But I would say the other categories are steady, there’s not one stand out product area that I would pull out over the others.

You recently revealed your top toy predictions for Christmas 2017. What were your thoughts on those? How did you go about choosing the toys?

We do discuss it as a much wider toy team, but honestly the top four or five pick themselves. And there’s very little debate about it because something like Luvabella is just so unique and when we all saw it for the very first time everybody was just wowed over by it.

So some things fall in quite easily because they’re so extraordinary or unique and we just know it’s going to inspire a child to really want it. So that was an easy one to go in. Obviously we have to put Hatchimals in and we have expanded that out to the Colleggtibles and that’s just based on the huge demand we saw last year. So again that was an easy one to put in and then we have seen the strength in some of the licenses come through, including PAW Patrol and PJ Masks, which are both very big this year and continuing to be.

So it’s very much well what do we think as they’re predictions at the end of the day, but they’re predictions based on sales we are seeing right now, trends that we saw at the back end of last year and toys that have completely wowed us.

We have got the latest and hottest things that children are going to want and we will certainty be communicating that with our customers.

Do you think there will be the same sort of craze over Colleggtibles like we saw last year with Hatchimals? 

I think with Hatchimals the demand was so big that we obviously couldn’t satisfy the stock. So we are still ahead of selling Hatchimals at a good rate at the moment and with the new ones out this Christmas I think it will still be, and it’s definitely going to be top toy.

Have you got a favourite among the top ten toys?

I would say Luvabella is probably my favourite. Just because from the moment I saw her I was kind of speechless and wowed by her. There’s nothing really like it on the market and I think that’s always really interesting that we are getting good innovation and bringing it to kids, but not for the sake of it. With a traditional method of play that we know children really love to do, but using technology to give them a real amazing experience that they have never had before with a baby doll.

What are your sales expectations for the toy category this year?

We don’t really discuss what we predict and the market has been a little volatile, but there’s lots of things to be hopeful for Christmas. There’s lots of great toys, as I said there’s lots of movies and I’m sure there will be lots of demand for that kind of product. People will want to make sure that their children have a great Christmas.

Anything else you’d like to add?

All I would say from an Argos point of view, is watch this space as we have got lots of new marketing coming up for this Christmas, and I think it’s exactly what customers are looking for. They want to know where they can get the toys and what’s the best value for money.

We have got the latest and hottest things that children are going to want and we will certainty be communicating that with our customers.


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