Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Rejoice...and spend!

So then, it's officially over. The recession that is!

It was with unbridled joy that we greeted the news in the hive that during the busiest retail quarter of the year, Q4 in 2009 saw a growth of an entire 0.1% for the UK. Salvation is upon us.

Toys and perhaps less noticeably gifts, have had a turbulent 12 months or so, as noted by the industry wigs at the 2010 Toy Fair in London. However, the storm has been weathered according to the British Toy and Hobby Association Chairman, Roger Dyson, although the comment that "many suppliers and retailers are stronger than they were a year ago" is upbeat to the extent that I want the drug testers round to his office pronto!

On the ground, so to speak, there is still a heck of a way to go to regain consumer confidence and with it, their spending.

Some small independents will have benefited from the demise of Woolworths in 2009, but there will be no such boost in 2010. With interest rates, the increase in VAT and a general election on the way, expect uncertainty to continue well into the year.

Perhaps we should lobby the government to introduce a toy scrappage scheme for 2010?!

Watch this space, chums.


Monday, 18 January 2010

Frequency matters

Admittedly the rate at which Bumble's Beelog is posted is probably not following the templates of those successfully blogging their way through the universe...but does frequency matter?

With size apparently, their is little or no debate, however, the frequency issue is another matter altogether. Perhaps quality does indeed prevail over quantity, or perhaps this bee is clutching at straws...

Nonetheless, around 8 months is positively Eagles-like when it comes to releasing new material, but cometh the new year cometh the honey bee.

So what of 2009? Well, if it had been a school report, I suspect it would have been concluded with "could do better". Certainly in terms of business there were periods when it felt like it was actually striving to be as bad as possible...May, September, October to name but a few parts!

At the end of December 2008, the British Retail Consortium's Retail Sales Monitor called for the tin hats to be donned as they showed that like-for-like sales had fallen in seven of the previous eight months and that eighty-five per cent of consumers believed they were feeling the impact of the recession and were reigning in their spending. Yet the view from the bottom of the food chain as 2009 unfolded and collapsed was a distinctly surprising one with those big, hungry pikes swimming about near the surface managing to get as much food into their bellies as they did.

What was it they were feeding on?

In October 2009, the LEGO CEO stated that he hoped to post a 50 per cent global profit growth for the year and that he thought they could "continue this low double-digit growth for the foreseeable future." Several retailers attributed a significant level of their growth was due to increased sales in toys - Argos, for example. More significantly were the sales of toys at John Lewis where, for the week ending 14 November 2009, they announced sales for the week at £65.43 million, a 13.2 per cent increase year-on-year from £57.82 million in 2008! Not to be outdone by itself, by the week-ending December 5th 2009, sales rose 13.8 percent fueled by demand for electronic games and other toys to a record £102.4m in the week, the firm said.

Amid all this spending in what is admittedly a very small snapshot, back in the "real" world, Tesco reported their best Christmas sales in three years, as non-food performance continued to strengthen with improving like-for-like sales, driven by particularly good growth in clothing, electricals and toys.

Perhaps the shift and success for some was down to the collapse and demise of another...Woolworths?

Call me a gloom and doom merchant, but is there anyone who doesn't feel even just a little trepidation at all this? I mean, after all, is life really about convenience? Is it about getting it all done, whatever "it" is, as quickly as possible and before the children throw a wobbly?

There are times when, whilst surveying the battlefield of small-business life, I have to admit to feeling increasingly strongly about not wanting to live in a world where all children wear a £10 disposable school uniform from The English Shopping Co. and where I can still find somewhere to go and spend my hard-earned and actually enjoy the purchasing process and having a person to speak with whilst doing so. Similarly I don't want to feel the concerns at what seem to be an irrepressibly strong tidal pull towards the latter and away from the former.

I'm sure it's just a hormonally strong concoction of age and cantankerousness...or is it? Ever feel like you just want to stop the world and get off...if only for a moment?

Answers on a postcard please...



Despite that, Bumble does wish you a happy and healthy 2010...or what's left of it!