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December 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 12
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Retailer Survey: Holiday Sales Soar High

Storeowners Call 2007 Strong; Will Start 2008 at Toy Fair


“Sales this year will be better. Consumers are confident that specialty stores are careful about what they sell.” Mary Alice Miner, Miner’s Toy & Doll Store, Ocean Springs, MS.
The majority of the 79 retailers TDmonthly Magazine surveyed in early November anticipated a strong holiday selling season: 59 percent believe sales will be better than last year, 24 percent think sales will be the same, and 9 percent fear they’ll be worse. The remaining 8 percent weren’t sure.

This optimism was reflected on “Black Friday” weekend. According to ShopperTrak RCT Corporation, “the first full weekend of the [2007] holiday shopping season … showed a healthy 6.5 percent increase … as compared to the same three-day period last year.”

Many toy-store owners anticipate stronger sales due to recent recalls. “Consumers are confident that specialty stores are careful about what they sell,” said Mary Alice Miner, owner of Miner’s Toy & Doll Store in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Her sentiment is echoed by Joyce Matthews, owner of Just 4 Fun in St. Simon’s Island, Ga: “People are upset with the recalls and they’re going to shop specialty stores this year … we have a lot of European products and these are doing well.”

WEBKINZ AND THEIR INTERNET ILK

According to Anita Frazier, NPD Group industry analyst for toys and video games, Webkinz are doing “phenomenally well,” with 2007 sales as of this October already triple those of 2006.

Of the 28 retailers surveyed who carried Ganz’s Webkinz, 58 percent said sales were “hot … great … doing well,” and 32 percent said sales were “fair … slowed … going down … not so hot.” Two retailers claimed sales were “bad,” and one said they were “still strong, but not like last year.”

Some retailers complain of an oversaturated market. “I’m a toy store and most other stores in town have bigger selection than I do … a book store up the street has four times as many as I do,” Monia Beasley, owner of Doodles in Tupelo, Miss., told TDmonthly.

Retailers who no longer carry Webkinz cite poor sales or issues with Ganz, as reported in May 2007.

Nineteen retailers who stock Webkinz reported that they also carry Russ Berrie’s Shining Stars and/or Ty Girlz. In general, retailers who are happy with Webkinz sales are pleased with Shining Stars and/or Ty Girlz sales, too, but those who can’t move Webkinz report slow sales of the others as well.

WHO’S TREKKING TO TOY FAIR?

Of 79 retailers questioned, 46 percent plan to attend the 2008 Toy Fair in New York.

Trade show consultant Candace S. Adams, aka “The Booth Mom®” stressed the importance of networking at Toy Fair: “Where else are retailers going to learn from other retailers who are geographically diverse and not their direct competitors down the street?”

Keith Schumacker, manager of Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, Calif., considers the relationship aspect important: “We like to maintain relations with our vendors and keep our face in front of them, so they know we are still around.”

The majority of non-attendees blamed bad timing, New York’s high costs and bad weather, and personal reasons. “I do just as well with reps and catalogues,” Betsy Justings, owner of Betsy's On Ross in Auburn, Ala., told TDmonthly.

But not Danny Givens, owner of Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Va. “I’m definitely going,” he said. “That’s my oxygen. It’s like an asthmatic doing an inhaler!”



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Laurel DiGangiWriter's Bio: Laurel DiGangi’s fiction has been published in Atlanta Quarterly, Asylum, Cottonwood, Denver Quarterly, and others.  As a journalist for Entertainment Today, she’s interviewed dozens of celebs, including the entire cast of  "Lord of the Rings." Her nonfiction has been published in the Chicago Reader and many trade magazines. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of Illinois/Chicago. Read more articles by this author

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