The first ‘Black Friday’ email landed in my inbox with Thanksgiving still a week away. May I just say that I think this is a really bad idea? What is the point of discounting toys in the weeks and days before Christmas? The global toy industry earns 50 percent of its revenue in the last quarter of the year, so why is there a need to cut margins right at the moment when parents and givers want to (and will always) buy toys? The fact is, toy sales during Black Friday declined in UK, France, Germany, and Italy last year; only Spain – where the adoption of the event is very recent – saw an increase, so it is likely that they will follow in the footsteps of the other European markets.
What we should collectively think about is how to drive growth for the global toy industry outside of the peak season. How can we convince consumers to part with their cash in the summer, for Easter, for back-to-school, for their holiday trips, for children’s day or grandparents’ day, and so on… anything other than the run-up to Christmas!
In fact, there are some wonderful examples of occasions around the world which have grown the toy market. In my opinion, the best one for a long time has been the ‘Toy Cat’ event in Australia. Pure invention from retailers, the event started with a dual purpose: clear the decks to make space (discount) and launch brand new autumn/winter toys in the middle of their (cold!) winter as kids spend more time indoors. Though it has now fizzled out a bit as some retailers have changed their strategy, it worked well for a number of years, so much so that the ‘toy cat’ period was almost as big as December at one point.
There are many other examples from around the world where we see an uplift in toy sales: Children’s Day in Mexico; Women’s Day and Men’s Day in Russia; Chinese New Year and Singles’ Day in China; the Epiphany in Spain and Italy; and Saint Nicholas’ Day in the Netherlands and Belgium. In truth, we ARE full of good ideas and initiatives, and I have not even mentioned advent calendars or movie releases. But please, don’t discount toys in November. If anything, it brings sales forward a little and empties stores for the next two weeks. There has got to be another way.