Aimee Hill, Assistant Selector at plaY-room AIS talks to TnP about how the team has been supporting its members and helping them to prepare for when the retailing restrictions are lifted. And she reminds the industry: “Christmas will happen!”
Firstly, how are you and the plaY-room team?
The plaY-room team is all well and in good spirits but having to work from home.
Do you feel the government is offering enough support for independent retailers and SMEs?
Many of our members will qualify for the government grant and both the rates-free period and the extension to the VAT submissions will also help. I am sure that our retailers will be glad that they can keep staff with the government paying 80 per cent of their salaries. Some have also been able to negotiate rent reductions, although they are legally bound to pay.
What support can you offer AIS members at this time?
We continue to communicate via our weekly member newsletters, and we are always there to support where we can. We need to ensure that we are ‘ready to run’ when retailing restrictions are lifted.
We are already working on our new show dates of 29-30 September at Cranmore Park, Solihull. Most importantly our central payment system continues to pay suppliers, as invoices are due on behalf of our membership.
How have AIS members been coping over the last few weeks?
Most have been busy reorganising the staffing levels that they require and completing application forms for various schemes.
Some have worked harder to maximise the sales from their online sites, especially as parent’s are looking for games and puzzles to occupy their children.
But online business has to reach a substantial level before covering the wages of those employed to pick, pack and despatch. Many are also concerned that the government may also impose restrictions on the delivery of non-essential goods. This has to be left to the member to decide but
AIS have business relationships with providers if they need help setting up.
Do you see any opportunities in all of this?
Our values are family-orientated. We encourage all activities that remove children from sitting in front of screens. Construction and creative activities are crucial for a child’s physical development and time spent playing games with others can help boost our sense of psychological wellbeing. Bananagrams is a firm favourite in our household!
How could Toys ‘n’ Playthings assist AIS members?
TnP can help promote our September show as a launching platform for trading in the critical fourth quarter for all independent toy retailers. The more suppliers understand the benefit of re-engaging with their customers ‘face-to-face’ the better. Christmas will happen!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Above all else, we are wishing good health to the toy industry.
New AIS Show Details:
29-30 September – Cranmore Park, Solihull