[LIVE] Coronavirus in the toy trade

The latest impact of Covid-19 on the toy industry – suppliers, retailers, trade shows and more

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 01.04.2020 | Business

[LIVE] Coronavirus in the toy trade thumbnail

This article is regularly updated with the latest coronavirus developments from toy suppliers, retailers, trade shows and other broader news pertinent to buying and selling toys

  • Monopoly, Dobble and Uno are among the best-selling toys of the past weeks. Sales of games and puzzles soared 240% during a seven-day period in March, according to NPD. Other winners have been outdoor toys and constuction sets - both seeing significant boosts. READ MORE
  • Deliveries of purchases made on The Entertainer website may take a little longer than usual, after the toy retailer adopted a shift system in its warehouses "that ensures social distancing at all times" to help safeguard staff against the coronavirus. "The safety of our employees is our first priority," says a notice on its delivery page. "We’re striving to deliver our usual levels of service but hope you’ll understand that things may be a little slower."
  • Mattel has launched its own online resource for families. Mattel Playroom offers online games, printable activities and more to keep kids entertained and playing while stuck at home during global social distancing efforts. READ MORE
  • An online resource for kids and parents has been launched by Hasbro to keep families occupied in lockdown. The #BringHomeTheFun campaign features a central online resource of videos, play tips and more - and the company is stepping up its support of UK charity Save the Children. READ MORE
  • Keel Toys Sales Director Steve Cox shares his experiences and tips on working from home, as much of the UK toy industry convert corners of their homes into their lockdown offices. READ MORE
  • The team at leading UK content and production house BoxFX have launched the #NHSTabletTeam initiative to help connect those receiving care for coronavirus in hospital with their loved ones. Learn how you can get involved and READ MORE
  • Mattel has begun repurposing fabric for Barbie and Fisher-Price products into masks for healthcare workers. The company is also looking into designing and producing other PPE to help keep frontline responders safe. READ MORE
  • While The Netherlands opts to leave toy retailers open as part of the country's partial lockdown, Nico Blauw, CEO of Dutch toy company BOTI International, shares his first-hand account of how the toy trade is operating and the reality of keeping toy shops up and running. READ THE FULL REPORT HERE
  • The LEGO Group is donating $50 million to help kids affected by the coronvairus through its charitable arm, the LEGO Foundation. The toy company has also launched a number of online initiatives to help families use LEGO as part of kids' education and to keep boredom at bay. READ MORE
  • Global confirmed coronavirus cases have passed 720,000, as the UK government looks to impose further restrictions on travel and may look to extend the current three-week lockdown by several months. 
  • The Toy Association has urged US legislators to keep toy stores open as more families enter self-isolation. A letter campaign outlines the educational and emotional benefits of toys and play for kids, and the economic importance of the industry. READ MORE
  • The Orb Factory, the toy comapny behind brands such as Soft 'N Slo Squishies, is converting its toy manufacturing machinery to ramp up production of sanitiser and disinfectant. READ MORE
  • Toy Industries of Europe shares an update on how it's working with national toy associations across the continent are working together to support businesses throughout the coronavirus outbreak. READ THE EXCLUSIVE REPORT HERE
  • Global confirmed cases of the coronavirus have passed 530,000, as the US becomes the nation with the highest number of infected. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for Covid-19. 
  • Retailers forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus have refused to pay their rents to Intu. The shopping centre operator, which already warned of collapse after a dismal 2019, says less than a third of all rent, due Wednesday 25 March, was paid, and some of its biggest tenants are refusing outright. READ MORE
  • A stop motion video released by Playmobil uses its iconic figures to explain the coronavirus outbreak to kids, from how to stay healthy and safe, to why they aren't at school - and even the meaning behind its Latin taxonomy. SEE THE VIDEO HERE
  • A coronavirus support hub for indpendent retailers has been launched by Bira. It provides handy links and advice for indies to access government guidance, loans, and details on what new rules and regulations apply to the sector. Andrew Goodacre, the association's CEO, says: “Everyone at Bira has been working hard to ensure that our members and the wider retail community receive the support they need at this time."
  • Disney share price yesterday dipped below $100 for the first time in nearly two and a half years, as the coronavirus forces movie postponements, parks and resorts closures, and dramatically reduced retail. It now sits just above the mark, but has lost close to 20 per cent in the past month.
  • LEGO says it is still on track to open the 80 new LEGO stores in China it had forecast for 2020. The coronavirus has hit other areas of its business, including its theme parks and supply chain, but the company's regional GM told local news LEGO is in "good position to deliver" on the openings. READ MORE
  • MGA boss Isaac Larian has launched Operation: Pac-Man, a relief initiative to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak. The company is donating cash, procuring masks and opening up its domestic manufacturing to begin producing medical equipment. READ MORE
  • Danish toy chain BR Toys has closed temporarily exactly a year after it reopened under the Salling Group, after being saved from insolvency. READ MORE
  • US toy company Crazy Aaron's has swapped production of its popular play putty for hand sanitiser to support local healthcare workers and first responders. The team are gearing up to produce 1500 gallons a day. READ MORE
Crazy Aaron's team swap putty production for hand sanitiser
  • The Toy Trust's big annual fundraiser has been called off. Due to take place in Oxfordshire this June, the Toy Trust Activity Day 2020 will no longer go ahead, but organisers say they will take the year to relaunch and reinvigorate it's main annual event for 2021. READ MORE
  • The Independent Toy and Gift Show is back on - though at a later date. After a swell of support from exhibitors and members, the AIS group will look to reschedule the show in Solihull for later September. READ MORE
  • Kids' TV viewership has been given a dramatic boost as families adjust to life in lockdown in the UK and across Europe. Generation Media charts the trend across Europe, early figures in the UK and what it means for toy advertisers in the UK, who could see enormous benefits to ROI as screen time and viewership continues to rise. READ THE EXCLUSIVE FULL REPORT HERE
  • All non-essential retailers have been ordered to close by the UK government. Smyths Toys joins The Entertainer in closing all stores, but will keep its online business open for customers to place and receive orders. READ MORE
  • Hasbro has seen "great demand" for its family favourites and arts and crafts lines, as parents look for ways to keep children entertained indoors. CEO Brian Goldner says its China supply chain is "back up and running", and the company will look to launch new product aimed at stay-at-home families as early as this week. READ MORE
  • Christmas in July Festival, due to take place this summer, will be postponed until September. Around a dozen toy companies joined retailers, confectioners, gadget and make-up brands at the media event last year to showcase their hottest product for Christmas. 
  • Hamleys has closed its doors on all UK locations for the time being. The historic retailer will continue to operate at airports and online. READ MORE
  • Toys R Us Canada has begun selling Stay-at-Home bundles of toys exclusively online, with free delivery. The retailer last week closed its doors for a fortnight. READ MORE
  • In the UK, Nando’s, McDonalds, The Entertainer, Costa Coffee, Waterstones, and Primark are among the high-profile retailers and fast-food restaurants that will close by the end of 23 March. WHSmith says it offers “essential products” and intends to remain open.
  • The number of confirmed cases worldwide has passed 350,000 and deaths as a result of contracting the virus passed 15,000 as of 23 March.
  • Smyths is restricting capacity to 20 customers at a time, with a strict one child per adult policy as part of its measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread in-store. READ MORE
  • The Entertainer will close all its stores from 5pm today (23 March). Its website and elc.co.uk will continue to receive and deliver orders for the time being. READ MORE
  • Spin Master’s manufacturing in Asia is nearing normal levels, it says, with “substantial improvements” in factory capacity seen across China, Vietnam and India over the past three weeks. The Canada-based toy giant has withdrawn its financial guidance and will share a new update during its Q1 report in May. READ MORE
  • Funko has withdrawn its financial guidance from earlier this month, which forecast 6-9% revenue growth. READ MORE
  • The UK Games Expo has been postponed to August, in a move that organisers say will protect the health of all involved and minimise financial burden on exhibitors. Anyone unable to make the new dates will be issued a full refund for either their entry ticket or stand fees. 
  • This year’s AIS Independent Toy and Gift Show will no longer take place next month, and will skip 2020 entirely. READ MORE
  • LEGO says the coronavirus has yet to significantly impact day-to-day operations. A spokesperson for the company tells TNP.MEDIA: “We are working to mitigate any disruption caused by the closure of manufacturing facilities – our own and partners. At this stage, all LEGO manufacturing sites are running as normal and there is no direct impact to customer supply.”
  • Basic Fun layed off 10 per cent of its staff as a cost-cutting measure against lower-forecast sales due to the coronavirus. READ MORE
  • Distoy 2020 has been cancelled and will not take place this year.
  • Licensing Expo, the licensing industry’s biggest trade show, has been postponed. The Las Vegas event will now take place in August, with exhibitor and visitor bookings and registration automatically carried over. READ MORE
  • E3, the highest profile trade show for the video game industry, has been cancelled. Due to take place in June, organisers at the ESA say they will look to produce and online showcase for exhibitors to share their news. 

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