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Did you see what happened to the European toy market during Christmas week?

Jan 17, 2017
Frédérique Tutt, Global Industry Analyst ;
Toys

Did toy sales in the UK really increase 33% over Christmas week last year? Did France really jump 29%? And Germany, is it possible that toy sales spiked 47%?

Granted, I may have contributed to this days-before-Christmas madness myself because on December 23, I gave in and bought that radio-controlled car my youngest child coveted and which I had been resisting. Did everyone else in Europe have a similar experience?

In short, yes.

Let me set the scene: Weeks 48 and 49 were generally glum across Europe, as NPD’s weekly data make clear. Week 50, the year’s biggest week for toys in many countries, was decent.

And then came week 51.

It was frankly astounding. I know that I finished my shopping that week and bought my stocking fillers, taking advantage of being off-work for the holiday. Did everyone else do the same?

Of course, we knew that week 51 would be up over 2015 because Christmas Day fell on a Sunday this year, leaving a full week to shop before Christmas. In 2015, Christmas Day fell on a Friday, which means shoppers had two more days this year than last year. And two more days make a big difference when it comes to sales.

But two more days can’t entirely explain this. Here’s what also happened: There was no clear driver in the toys market this year and, importantly, on-line shopping may have skewed the shopping season.

Last year, we had Frozen and we had Star Wars driving the market. This year was more of an open playing field- with the exception of the global hunt for Hatchimals - so people didn’t decide quite as quickly. They waited. Apparently they waited until Christmas week.

And on-line shopping allowed them to wait with confidence. They trusted retailers in-time-for-Christmas deadlines and procrastinated until then. They trusted Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s click-and-collect deadlines; the pick-up slots on the final days were sold out. And of course, brick-and-mortar stores stayed open too, like Auchan, that closed at 11 pm on December 23.

So, what will happen in 2017? Will retailers open on Christmas Eve, which falls on a Sunday this year? Will on-line sites arrange for delivery on that Sunday? Personally I promise to be more organized…

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