Christmas 2014 is looking to be the year of High Street resurgence, according to the UK’s independent toy retailers.
Festive cheer has already kicked in across many of the country’s shopping destinations, with reports from indie retailers that like for like sales are already up, and looking to equate to a successful holiday season.
“Christmas has already started really early around here,” Luan Hall, owner of the Bedfordshire-based traditional toy retailer, Fairies n Frogs, told ToyNews.
“I have totted it all up, and we are already up on what we were on last year, so far. So it is absolutely looking like a strong year.”
From Bedfordshire to Staffordshire, the consensus remains the same around the country, with reports of shoppers piling into their local toy stores for a spot of early Christmas shopping.
“Our local light switch on has happened already, so people are starting to feel in the festive mood,” said Jane Powell, owner of Leek’s Over the Rainbow.
“The first week has been absolutely phenomenal for me, I have been blown away. We are definitely looking up on last year
“When I did last year’s sales I thought, ‘how am I going to match these?’ and to actually be increasing on sales week on week, it’s just fantastic.”
Across the board, retailers are beginning to see an uplift in customer footfall, as consumers show signs of favouring the independent High Street sellers over the multiples and bigger name stores.
“I think a lot of the uplift is down to customer service,” continued Powell. “A lot of places now are losing their staff, they are becoming faceless
“However, we find that people are wanting help. We have a lot of people coming in and asking for our advice.”
Fairies n Frogs’ Hall, added: “People are going back to their roots; I do think this Christmas could be the year for the independent toy shops.”
Manchester-based Giddy Goat Toys has already seen a 20 per cent increase in sales compared to 2013, a result owner Amanda Alexander believes to be down to both early Christmas shopping and her own carefully selected stock choices.
“I always get positive feedback on how well stocked the shop is and what lovely toys we have,” she told ToyNews.
But this hasn’t come easy to the independent retailer, and Alexander reveals that she is still seeing stock issues arise over some of the most popular and sought after products for the year.
“We have problems securing all the Frozen lines we have ordered and have been let down by the wholesaler we use,” she continued. “We were also massively short delivered on LEGO, so have had to place an order for double what we want to ensure we get adequate stock.”
But despite the hurdles, Alexander is optimistic that sales will still be steady this year, thanks to her network of local shoppers.
“We’re lucky to be in a lovely area where there are a number of people making a conscious effort to shop local and support independent shops,” she said. “They have seen other High Streets in the area deteriorate, and don’t want the same to happen here.”
While licensed toys and products feature heavily on the Top Toy lists from some of the big name retailers this year, the independents believe that the market for non-licensed, traditional and educational products is gaining equal momentum for Chirstmas 2014.
“Alongside Dobble, we are selling a lot more traditional games this year,” said Mark Stewart, co-owner of Wise Owl Toys. “Christmas is starting well for us and we are optimistic.
“As long as it continues like this through to Christmas Eve, I will wake up a very happy man on Christmas Day.”