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Toy Tracker 2018 (Part 2): If it’s not in stock, you can’t sell it – at any price.

By Irene Bodega

Compared to previous years, retailers this year appear to have placed greater emphasis on the promotion of toys during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday period. The demise of Toys “R” Us has opened up additional sales opportunities for retailers who stock toys, resulting in dedicated homepage banners during the promotional event. Let’s explore the pricing tactics retailers applied during the holiday period and how stock availability may have affected sales.

On 14 November, nine days before Black Friday, the Toy Retailers Association (TRA) revealed its prediction for the top toys this Christmas. The TRA’s DreamToys top 12 for 2018 includes two of the toys also available in the Hamleys’ list; the ‘Boxer Robot’ and the ‘L.O.L. Surprise Eye Spy Under Wraps’. Both baskets also include a Harry Potter Lego item and a Monopoly game, as well as a slime-based item and a two player pack of toy laser guns, albeit differently branded.

Parents who had not yet catered for their kids’ Christmas wishes may have waited those nine extra days until Black Friday, hoping to grab a good deal on one of the toys predicted to be the most popular this year. What did our toy shoppers experience when comparing price and how did availability affect their ultimate choice of retailer?


DreamToys: Who sold at a dream price?
As we also observed with the Hamleys’ list, Amazon and Argos stocked all the items in the DreamToys list on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, except for the ‘Fingerlings Untamed Jailbreak Playset T-Rex Dinosaur’. Smyths Toys and Very also stocked all but one of the toys. Tesco, on the other hand, only listed one of the 12 toys – the ‘L.O.L. Surprise Eye Spy Under Wrap’.

The Entertainer (thetoyshop.com), which is in pole position with Smyths Toys to capitalise on the demise of Toys “R” Us, did not list three of the DreamToys items and was also the most expensive retailer, solely or conjointly, on more than half of the toys it stocked.

Amazon, on the other hand, had the cheapest price, alone or conjointly, on all the toys it listed. The Barbie listing was the only exception, with the cheapest price (£39.99) being offered by John Lewis and The Entertainer, although it was out of stock on The Entertainer on both days (and it was also out of stock on Amazon on Cyber Monday).



Pricing tactics during Black Friday frenzy
When comparing the prices seen on Cyber Monday to those observed on Black Friday for the toys in the DreamToys list, only Argos and Amazon have made some price reductions between the two days. Argos reduced the price of the ‘Harry Potter Wand’, down from £24.99 to match Amazon and Smyths Toys price at £19.99 and Amazon reduced that of the ‘Poopsie Slime Surprise’ by 2.6 percent in the days in between.

Although there were no significant price changes between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some retailers reduced their prices in the week running up to Black Friday. Argos and John Lewis, for example, reduced the price of a third of their listings during that week, and The Entertainer and Very also reduced the price of some of the toys they listed. Smyths Toys, on the other hand, increased the price of four of the 11 toys it listed, but reduced the price of the ‘Boxer Robot’ on Black Friday day.


The price of the Hamleys’ top toys also did not change significantly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The only price reductions took place on Amazon, where the price of the ‘Elasti Plasti’ was reduced to £13.03. The same item, however, could have still been purchased for cheaper from The Entertainer and Very. Amazon also increased the price of the Gravitrax and Nerf listings, although only marginally.

Once again, retailers reduced the prices of the toys in advance of Black Friday. Amazon, in particular, cut the prices of some of the toys on the eve of Black Friday. John Lewis also reduced the price of two of the five toys it stocked in the week before the promotional event. Very too reduced the price of three of the toys on the 16 and 17 November, well in advance of Black Friday.

Only Smyths Toys and Very ended some of their promotions on 27 November, but many did not end until later on, signalling that Hamleys and TRA’s top toys were not being specifically promoted for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

In some instances, a lower price was offered after Cyber Monday; the Gravitrax was priced at £34.99 on Amazon on 28 November, down from £39.90 (BF) and £39.99 (CM), however it was out of stock at the time we sourced our data. On the Very website, the ‘Harry Potter wand’ was promoted at £19.99 on 27 November, down from £24.99 in the previous days, matching all other retailers’ prices. This highlights how retailers are continuing to promote as it is still a peak time for toy sales.



Who won on availability?
Edge has reviewed the availability of toys in the period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and found that John Lewis had the lowest average availability for the DreamToys it listed. In particular, the Barbie and NSI Laser were out of stock across the four days, whereas the ‘L.O.L. Surprise Pop Up Store’ was only in stock on Cyber Monday.

Very also faced some availability issues, with the ‘L.O.L. Surprise Pop Up Store’, ‘Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Hall’ and the Monopoly being out of stock for the entire period analysed. The Fingerlings also went out of stock the day after Black Friday.

The Entertainer, which was not particularly competitive on price, also showed some availability hiccups that could have affected its performance. The Barbie and Monopoly listings were once again out of stock for the entire period, whereas the ‘Boxer Robot’ was only available on Black Friday.

Edge also looked at the availability of Hamleys’ top toys and found that, while Argos maintained a solid stocking throughout the Black Friday weekend, John Lewis had once again the lowest average availability, with the ‘Monopoly Cheaters Edition’ being out of stock during the four-day period.

Very followed suit and, even though none of the toys was out of stock for the full weekend, some were unavailable on some of the days. For example, the Gravitrax was out of stock on Black Friday, meaning that shoppers looking to make their purchases on the day would have visited a different retailer/website instead.


Is Cyber Monday losing its identity?
Our price analysis revealed that there were no remarkable price changes between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, further strengthening the idea that Cyber Monday seem to have become a continuation of Black Friday. This was also evident from the study we conducted on Cyber Monday, when Edge found that 87.9 percent of all the promotions detected on the day had been carried over from Black Friday.

Some retailers, however, did not prove to be fully prepared to face the demand during the extended event and ran out of stock on many of the toys either before Black Friday or during the following weekend, missing out on important sale opportunities.

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