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Brand View Christmas Toy Tracker 2016: When was the best time to buy?

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The Black Friday weekend, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), stimulated a 5.9 percent increase in retail sales in November compared to last year. The ONS highlighted the strong performance – due to heavy Black Friday discounting – of department and household goods stores as the predominant factor behind the sales growth.

With the intention of maximising potential Christmas sales, many of these stores promoted toys and games among the more traditional electrical deals. Brand View has analysed the shelf pricing of the Hamleys’ and Toy Retailers Association’s (TRA) Christmas baskets since 1 November to see which retailer had the lowest price and when was the best time to buy.

Hamleys’ top ten toys for Christmas: Lowest shelf price by retailer

Looking at the lowest price that each retailer charged throughout the time period reveals no one retailer had significantly lower prices that its rivals. Very arguably performed the best as it had the sole lowest price for three of the products while Smyths Toys had the joint lowest price on two items and the sole lowest on the Paw Patrol Zoomer Marshall.

Argos and Toys ‘R’ Us shared the joint lowest price on the Nerf N Strike Mastodon with Smyths Toys. Toys ‘R’ Us also had the joint lowest price with Smyths Toys on the Pie Face Showdown game. Argos was the sole cheapest retailer for the Star Wars BB8 Virtual Reality Viewer, although Very was the only other retailer to list the item.

The Entertainer did not have the lowest price on any of the toys and actually had the sole or joint highest price on five of the six items it listed.

image00Brand View Daily Prices and Promotions 1 November 2016 – 19 December 2016

Toy Retailers Association’s top 12 Christmas toys: Lowest shelf price by retailer

The TRA basket also shows similar results to that of the Hamleys basket with Very performing the best. The retailer had the sole lowest price on four products just outperforming Argos which had the sole lowest price on three toys and the joint lowest on the Lego Friends Roller Coaster with Toys ‘R’ Us.

Smyths Toys had the sole lowest price on two of the products in the basket and the joint lowest on the Paw Patrol Air Patroller Plane, also with Toys ‘R’ Us. Toys ‘R’ Us itself was sole cheapest on only one item – the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage Playset.

The Entertainer again performed poorly as it had the sole or joint highest price on ten of the twelve items in the basket.

image01Brand View Daily Prices and Promotions 1 November 2016 – 19 December 2016
* Data not available

When did each retailer offer the best deals on the Christmas toy baskets?

Looking at the lowest shelf price that the retailers had for each product showed that some retailers did not have their lowest prices over the Black Friday weekend as some shoppers would assume.

Brand View has analysed which retailers had their lowest prices on Christmas toys over the Black Friday weekend. This is shown as the percentage of each Christmas basket that the retailer listed.

Very had the greatest number of lowest prices in the above analysis, however only a few of these were over the Black Friday weekend – only one of the items from the Hamleys list and just three of the TRA’s top toys.

he reverse also appeared to be true. The Entertainer and Toys ‘R’ Us were arguably the worst performers in the previous analysis yet both retailers appeared to have more of their lowest prices over the Black Friday weekend than their rivals. In fact Toys ‘R’ Us offered the lowest price on all of the toys it listed from the Hamleys basket over the Black Friday weekend.

*The lowest price used in this analysis may have been observed at other times between 1 November and 19 December as well as the Black Friday weekend.

Christmas basket price index

In order to identify when was the best time to purchase these toys from each retailer Brand View has indexed the basket total since 1 November.

Looking at the Hamleys basket we can clearly see that the best time to purchase from Toys ‘R’ Us was over the Black Friday weekend, as previously identified. The basket was 9.3 percent cheaper between 24 and 28 November than 1 November. It has since steadily increased.

Very and Argos appeared to follow each other. Argos reduced the price of two items on 10 November so that the basket total was as it lowest between 10 and 18 November. Very reduced the price of seven items on 11 November and then further reduced the Nerf N Strike Mastodon on 12 November leading to its lowest basket value between 12 and 18 November.

Smyths Toys had its lowest Hamleys basket value between 16 and 21 November and over the three days after Black Friday. The value of the Hamleys basket in The Entertainer has been falling since 1 November and was at its lowest at the end of the analysis period (19 December).

The TRA basket also showed that prices tended to be lower prior to the Black Friday weekend. Very again had its lowest basket value between 11 and 18 November and Argos had its lowest basket value between 13 and 15 November.

The TRA’s top ten toys were 3.5 percent more expensive on the Toys ‘R’ Us website over the Black Friday weekend compared to 1 November and was at its cheapest on 10 November. The Entertainer had a steadily decreasing basket value over time reaching its lowest point on 20 November when it reduced the price of the Lego Star Wars Rebel U Wing.

When should shoppers buy Christmas toys?

A number of retailers promoted toys over the Black Friday weekend however as we have seen a shopper is likely to get a better deal more than a week before the annual shopping event. Some retailers did offer their best prices on the toys analysed over the Black Friday weekend, however the retailers with the lowest prices tended to offer better deals between 10 and 21 November.
Those shoppers looking for toys for their children would have benefited by purchasing these gifts early and using the Black Friday weekend to focus on electrical gifts which were more heavily reduced.

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