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PM urged to put toys on essential retail list before Christmas

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

Toy industry bosses have urged the Prime Minister not to “allow Covid to steal Christmas from children”, as they appealed for toys to be added to the essential retail list.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the chairmen of the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) and the Toy Retailers Association (TRA) called for toy stores to be allowed to welcome customers again next month.

Toy retailers are among stores to have shut their doors in England as part of the second national lockdown, being restricted to online and click and collect sales until at least December 2.

Andrew Laughton and Alan Simpson called for toys to be added to the list of essential retail as soon as possible, and at a minimum, ensure toy shops are allowed to operate when the four-week lockdown ends.

In the letter, they said: “We need you to ensure that Christmas isn’t cancelled in a year when we all need some joy to lift the country’s spirits, to assist the UK toy industry and, most importantly, to support families that need our toys for essential child development and pure joy this Christmas.

Father Christmas
The industry bosses said ‘Christmas is synonymous with toys under the tree’ (Yui Mok/PA)

“Toys are essential tools of play to contribute to child development and learning and have been essential to families this year during lockdown, keeping children entertained, keeping them active, maintaining positive mental health and underpinning the morale of families across the country.

“Now we enter the season when toys are more essential than ever. Christmas is synonymous with toys under the tree.

“Toys and games bring joy and entertainment to children and they are important in creating moments that bond and unify families during the festive period.”

The toy industry is worth £3.2 billion to the UK economy with 50% of toys sold in the last quarter of the year, according to the trade groups.

The industry bosses told the Prime Minister that retailers “will not be able to cope with demand as we get closer to Christmas” if current restrictions stay in place.

“This period is crucial to the survival of toy companies across the UK and without November and December trade, many companies will not survive,” they added.

The trade bodies warned the current closures are impacting on around £400 million of trade typically seen in November and could hit £820 million worth of business next month.

Last week, the boss of UK’s largest toy chain, The Entertainer, warned some children’s presents will not arrive in time for Christmas due to a shortage of couriers if shops are kept shut through December.

Gary Grant, told the PA news agency there “is not enough delivery capacity” if the current four-week lockdown in England is extended.