Coronavirus – Internet does not save Saint-Nicolas: Belgian toy companies display alarming figures

More than 16 times to sleep before the passage of Saint-Nicolas. Toy stores are closed and must therefore do their sales remotely. Many customers anticipate their orders and consolidate orders from the whole family. Despite everything, the toy sector recorded a loss of turnover of -30 to -50% according to the federation. The internet doesn’t seem to be saving Saint Nicholas.

Our team went to a toy store in Gosselies, right in the middle of the collection. Many parents and grandparents are present to fill the little shoes and the hood. In 2020, everything is happening much earlier than in other years. “I had never placed my orders so early. They date from October. There is no choice“, reacts a lady who is in line.

Anticipate and group. Many families have merged the listings for online shopping. “Me, mom doesn’t know, so she asked me to do it for her. I gave him the code to go to another store. It’s resourcefulness“, says another client.

We run in all directions

Inside the store, the staff are busy. Like elves, eleven employees work, from one department to another, in place of customers. “We do a lot of kilometers. I have a watch telling me the distance traveled per day, we are almost at 10,000“, explains Miron Abasyan, responsible for toys. 10,000 steps, and that’s only for the first 3 hours of the working day.

Online orders are skyrocketing: in the store brand we visited in Gosselies, it’s +70 to + 100%. “We run in all directions, because the orders come in every minute. We have the phone ringing too“, explains Xavier Lebon, manager of a toy store at Dreamland.

Internet does not save the toy: -50% of turnover at a large Belgian brand

After Gosselies, our journalists went to Houdeng-Goegnies (La Louvière), to the head office of a major brand of toy stores. Here too, the brand records around one order on the internet every minute. This is four times more than before.

However, this online activity does not increase the activity of the company. With the crisis, and despite the approach of Saint-Nicolas, the brand recorded -50% of turnover. “Internet, with us, we do not have the strike force that an Amazon or other could have. So clearly, we manage to limit the damage very very slightly“, says Mohamed Bennis, director of supply and logistics at Maxi Toys, which has 126 stores in Belgium.

As in fashion, products will no longer be worth anything

In its stocks, the company counts 2.14 million toys. This is 30% more than in other years. “Toys are trendy, it’s license, it’s TV series. This means that some products, part of our stock, will be difficult to sell in 2021.“, explains Alain Hellebaut, CEO of Maxi Toys.”What to do?“, asks our journalist.”Liquidate“, he retorts.

As in fashion, the products will no longer be worth anything, and therefore our customers will remain with this merchandise on their hands. And so they might not be able to pay the whole bill on time“, explains Marc Dhooghe, secretary of the Belgian toy federation.

The sector calls for a reopening

The period is however crucial for the sector. The last two months of the year represent 40% of turnover. This is also the time when stores place orders for Easter. “Today, we believe that the toy is the essential with Saint-Nicolas in front of us. Saint-Nicolas, we do not know how to shift the dates. This means that, for us, reopening the toy sector is essential“, reacts Alain Hellebaut, Chairman and CEO of Maxi Toys.

The sector wants to resume its activities urgently in a week.

COVID 19 Belgium: where is the epidemic this Friday, November 20?


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