Traditional or tech toys?

This month, Robert Hutchins asks our panel of toy retail buyers how they strike the balance between stocking tech-focused and more traditional toys, and if higher-priced tech toys are taking more shelf space
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Brian Simpson, Manager, Toytown
"I am a big believer in children using toys to gain skills and knowledge and making the play value of a toy work by encouraging the child to use their imagination. I feel that increased technology has a negative influence on kids actually using their imagination, or even going outside and kicking a football. However, we do stock some of the better tech products to ensure we are offering a good range. Our tech range has also increased, keeping in trend with suppliers ranging, but margin [on these] is poor so I keep a very tight reign.

"It’s very difficult to say [if higher priced tech toys will take up more shelf space over the next year], kids want what their friends have. We will stock the toys we think will sell, but it does concern me that the
current trend of kids toys is to promote laziness by staying indoors and looking at tablets.”

Annalise Quest, Director of Harrods Home
“There is currently huge demand for tech-based toys and there are some very exciting launches coming in the next few months, so we are certainly stocking more technology lines this year.

"However, traditional toys have always been a key category for Harrods Toy Kingdom and we devote a large amount of space to traditional items in our Enchanted Forest. We have seen a significant increase for demand in brands such as Seedling and A Girl For All Time, examples that show toys do not have to be technological for children’s enjoyment.

"We will be hosting the Slow Toy Awards 2013 and will showcase all seven winners in autumn, which will really bring traditional toys to the forefront.”

Helen Gourley, Owner, ToyHub
“Most ‘traditional’ toys have some sort of tech element to them including Playmobil’s iPod Touch adaptor and LEGO’s Hero Factory points to be used in an online game. We do stock game-based toys such as Skylanders and will be looking at the Disney Infinity range, but we change our stock levels dependent on demand.

"We have tried various tech toys such as the Bladez R2D2 and Innotab 2, but unfortunately we found that a lot of parents in our area are more interested in buying a real piece of tech.

"We will stock up on higher priced tech toys for Christmas, but the recession is biting, so we are avoiding overstocking.”

Ian Edmunds, Operations Manager, Toymaster
“[Retailers] have to stock what their consumers expect to find in an independent toy shop, and in the main this is traditional toys. We have never been strong at selling tech-based products, although there is nothing to say that this won’t change.

"Do I think higher-priced tech toys will take up more shelf space over the next 12 months? No.”

Steph Strike, Head of Toys, Asda
“We are focused on getting the right range in the right channels at the right time. For our smaller stores, this means concentrating on pocket money toys and everyday gifting for the majority of the year. For online and larger stores we will continue to offer higher price toys all year round. In the Christmas build up, we try to make sure we have a wider toy offer in all stores.”

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