Toy Shortage UK Covid-19
Having been in the Toy industry in the UK for over 15 years. Running my own distribution company and brand of kids quad bikes, Hawkmoto and retail website RideOnToy.org specialising is Kids Electric Car products. I have never quite seen what we are currently experiencing. This has left me wondering exactly what is Christmas 2020 going to bring for children. If having there GCSE and A Level exam Results predicated and then downgraded wasn’t enough of a shock to their systems. Christmas looks like it’s also going to present some challenging scenarios.
Lockdown cleared everyone out
Back in March when Boris Locked the country down and kept us all at home. The toy industry went into overdrive and parents all over the country scrambled to clear the shelves of Toys. Every retailer in my network has nearly nothing left to sell and had their entire summer stock decimated before March was even over. Then Came the Heatwave which compounded the issue. With millions of kids stuck at home, Any summer paddling pools and large outdoor pools, Along with swings and slides were next on the hit list for parents. All the retailers had the Summer stock cleared by the end of March. Large importers scrabbled to restock turning to China to produce to restock before June..
China Toy Shortage 2020 Industry Hit Hard
The problem we faced as importers, was that China were already 2 Months behind production. So they returned back to work after Covid , They already had a 4 month wait time before any goods could be produced. Let alone be shipped. This struck the industry another blow. With the backlog of orders growing across all retailers websites stock diminished. Toy retailers across the entire world were pushing the factories hard for faster delivery times. They were very quickly told that the USA Market has in most cases been prioritised. As they have the largest retail market and place the largest orders. So orders Placed in March are being produced 90-120 days after order. Meaning the whole toy industry in the UK suffered massive set backs. Replacing stock was impossible and until August and September, nothing was sailing from China. Deliveries for the Summer stock that was cleared out in March.
As importers and wholesalers battle with the ongoing space issue on ships due to covid-19. The factories order books were filling up fast and they they are desperately trying to catch up. One Factory I have personally dealt with for almost 10 YEARS, Took my orders only to cancel them 3 months later after receiving deposits. Telling me that they wouldn’t be able to physically produce the goods until early November. This isn’t a one off either. Two other factories asked me to decrease my order numbers or they too would have to cancel orders down.
Smaller retailers struggling
Smaller retailers who would normally order Christmas stock in July – Mid August ready for the Christmas are now struggling to get production space. If they can get any at all in time for the Christmas period. As a wholesaler we are seeing large retail customers daily calling us asking us whether we would sell them stock. As they are being quoted February Delivery times, after being let down by factories. This is a real issue happening behind the scenes in the toy industry. Even I as an experienced importer with many trade customers and connections in the industry am struggling with what I am able to sell for Christmas 2020. The factories just cannot produce the goods or have no production time available for 120 days plus at the moment.
What Products Are Affected
Kids Electric Cars have been hit quite hard. Trampolines , Swimming and paddling pools also. Hot Tubs went crazy this year, with people selling them on ebay for over £600 second hand. Why? because the industry was hit so hard and fast we couldn’t possibly have stocked up for it. No retailer or wholesaler was prepared for the demand that happened the night Boris locked the country down. Creating a massive toy shortage. Swing and slides sets were sold out everywhere and all the largest importers were unable to get products produced in time to restock. This meant that we were unable to get our products before the Kids go back to school in September. So as well as everything else, they missed the kids school holiday fun too.
Ride On Toys were fortunate enough to have had strong relationships with our factories and suppliers. However it hasn’t been without its challenges. Our website has been showing items as out of stock for most of Summer 2020. Which for us has a massive knock on effect. Luckily with some good fortune and luck, We are starting to see our stock levels slowly return to normal. However it hasn’t been without many sacrifices on range of products we were able to order, and this is Industry wide.
What To Expect This Year When Buying Toys
Expect there to be wide scale toy shortage of products. Even if companies do manage to get their stock they will have a limited range of products. Products you think will be popular will most likely be out of stock early into the Christmas Season. Kids Electric Cars and kids quad bikes are definitely on the hit list. They will be short stocked as I personally know of 6 large importers who cannot get any production schedules. Each of those would likely bring in 20 Containers each per year. So there is 100 containers short already. The toy industry is currently in the background scrabbling for stocks. Each of us fighting daily battles to secure shipping space and production space in china. My own containers that did ship have already been delayed by more than 3 weeks and we’re only in august. as I write this.
I am concerned for the upcoming season and I think we will see a shortage of toy products like the industry has never seen at such a crucial period. Please make sure that you shop early this year. I would hate to think of any little ones not getting what they wish for.