Ahead of the Paw Patrol movie’s release this summer, Toys “R” Us Canada and toymaker Spin Master Corp. have done something rarely seen before in the toy industry.
They airlifted Liberty toys _ the latest member of the animated search and rescue team _ from China to Canada to put the new pup on store shelves in time for the film’s premiere.
“We really wanted Liberty to be available to our customers when the movie was released,” said Katrina Fyfle, Brand Manager, Toys ‘R’ Us Canada. “It was the one we put on a plane in partnership with the seller.”
This unusual step underscores the continued difficulty of operating in the midst of a pandemic and the resulting labor shortages, escalating material prices, rising shipping costs and lengthy delays.
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It also foreshadows what the toy industry could face this holiday season, a time that accounts for up to 70% of all toy sales for the year by some estimates.
Industry experts say toymakers and retailers are bracing for a potentially tough run into Christmas this year, and offer some advice for consumers: Shop early, don’t expect big sales and, above all, , find a good hiding place until the holidays to deter nosy children.
“The supply chain issues aren’t going to correct themselves this fall,” Canadian Toy Association spokesman Andrew Wagar said in an interview.
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“There will be items that will sell out faster than usual and they will be restocked slower than usual.”
The toy industry group says there will always be toys on store shelves, but recommends consumers start their holiday shopping as early as October to avoid being disappointed by potential stock-outs of some articles in the run-up to the holidays.
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While toy retail prices are expected to hold steady or increase only slightly, Wagar said shoppers may notice fewer door-crash deals as toymakers and retailers face increasing pressure on the costs.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a price increase as much as a decrease in toy discounts over the holiday season,” he said. “We anticipate that these types of sales will not be as prolific or as drastic as in years past.”
But whether the price rises partly depends on the toy company and where the goods are made, Wagar said.
Smaller toymakers are more likely to take advantage of the spot market for shipping, which in the past may have been a cheaper option, he said. But growing demand for cargo space has driven spot market prices up 500-800%.
“A container that would normally cost $3,000 now sells for $24,000,” Wagar said.
“Big toy companies have more items, more brands, more money and probably better shipping deals than small toy companies. You’re going to see small toy companies probably suffer more than big ones. toy companies.
Claire Hutchings, co-owner of independent toy store Dilly Dally Kids in Vancouver, said nearly every supplier they work with increased their list prices this summer, some for the second time in a year.
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“Prices are certainly going up a lot more than we’ve seen in the past,” she said. “The cost of plastic resins has also increased and the base cost of wood has fallen. So we know they don’t overprice.
The toy store has absorbed as many price increases as possible over the past two years, but will likely have to pass on some of the higher costs, Hutchings said.
“That was the tipping point,” she said. “We still won’t raise our prices if we can manage it, but in some cases we may have to.”
As for inventory, Hutchings said she started ordering six weeks earlier than normal for the holiday season.
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“We are seeing a decline in stock availability across the board,” she said. “It’s rare that I place an order and get 100% of it. To mitigate this, we bought early so our warehouse is really full right now.
But that’s unlikely to last, as wait times to restock sold-out items are unpredictable and new orders placed in the coming months are unlikely to arrive before the holidays, Hutchings said.
Fyfle with Toys “R” Us said the store is still waiting for some of the toys expected to be popular with kids this year.
These late-arriving goods could benefit last-minute shoppers, but she said if shoppers see something in stock now, it’s best not to wait.
© 2021 The Canadian Press