Trade bemused by 'shortage' stories

Media reports of a dearth of toys on shelves this Christmas have been refuted by suppliers and retailers.
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Media reports talking of a dearth of toys on shelves this Christmas have been refuted by suppliers and retailers

A report in the Evening Standard based on research from analyst Ian Hartnett from Abosolute Strategy, said Chinese toy exports were at their lowest for 12 years and that German and French stock levels were at 20-year lows.

Although the report did not have any stats for the UK market, according to the Standard “there is no reason to doubt it’s similar over here”. Other media outlets have picked up on the story and attempted to create an ‘official’ toy shortage.

Trade commentators, however, have hit back at the news reports. The Entertainer MD Gary Grant said simply: “What a load of codswallop. I was interviewed by the BBC recently and six times I had to repeat myself that there was no shortages. They’re trying to make something out of nothing.”

“We’ve found everybody has been a little more conservative this year,” said Character Options marketing director, Jerry Healy. “It looks like it’s a year where we will end up with relatively clean shelves and warehouses come Christmas Eve.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. Anything that encourages consumers to buy early is good for the industry.”

Kevin Jones, managing director of Spin Master UK, said: “I am sure there will be shortages on certain items that are a surprise versus expectations. Taking a broader view I think that manufacturers have been generally cautious due to the economy and not knowing the impact of having no Woolworths. And retailers have found it difficult to predict the level of sales that they would pick up due to not having Woolworths. The combination of the two is having an impact on overall supply levels in my opinion.”

Paul Reader, product selector at Toymaster added: “As far as Toymaster is concerned, no doubt certain hot lines will be short, which is normal. The average independent stocks 7,000 different toy lines and they will all be full of toys. We believe we’ve got plenty of stock.

“Suppliers have been cautious and not brought in the numbers but what we’ve missed is the £345m worth of toys that Woolworths used to sell. That’s a fair few containers.”

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