Hope might be a strategy after all…it’s John Baulch’s Friday Blog!

I attended a fascinating NPD presentation in London earlier this week. Like all attendees, I am bound by confidentiality not to reveal the key stats that were quoted, and I want to be invited back to future events, so I have to be careful what I share. Nevertheless, I felt it would be good to reflect on some of the general observations that were discussed on the day.

First up, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way – September trade. It wasn’t good. No, really not good. It started fairly poorly, then went downhill rapidly in the second half of the month, with the Queen’s death and subsequent mourning period, followed by the disastrous mini budget, applying a nasty double whammy to sales in the final two weeks of September. The only thing you can say is that both events were complete one-offs and totally out of anyone’s control– other than the imposters who are squatting at 10 & 11 Downing Street (hopefully not for much longer). If you have ever been at a football match when both sets of supporters start singing “You don’t know what you’re doing” to the referee, I would imagine that is how the Prime Minister and the Chancellor must be feeling at the moment.

However, it’s also worth remembering that things can change very quickly out at retail; what happened two or three weeks ago may not necessarily be replicated over the coming months. This week has seen the launch of a huge toy sale at Sainsbury’s, which featured a very strong selection of products at extremely competitive prices (in amongst the usual deluge of Chad Valley lines). I suspect the timing of the promotion – coinciding with the second Amazon Prime day of 2022 – wasn’t entirely coincidental. Smyths also released its predictions for the top 15 toys for Christmas, which felt representative to me – in contrast with some of the more eclectic lists we’ve seen in recent weeks. But in a way, it doesn’t matter what’s on each individual retailer’s top toy list; what’s important is to get consumers thinking about festive purchases and building up the anticipation that, no matter how rubbish the past few months have been, we’re all going to do our best to make sure we have a good Christmas.


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