Spielwarenmesse checks in with exhibitors and visitors on COVID-19

“While the crisis is posing a huge challenge for trade and industry, it is also accelerating the implementation of new, forward-looking measures.”

The organiser of Nuremberg toy fair, Spielwarenmesse eG has conducted a major survey of its exhibitors and visitors to find out how they are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1,810 trade visitors from 42 countries and 548 companies from 48 countries took part in the survey which was carried out in spring.

On the visitor side, the questionnaire was completed by the management of various trading formats, the majority of whom operate both a bricks and mortar shop and an online store.

Many of them have succeeded in creating new sales channels, ensuring continued access for their customers despite the pandemic. These include existing online stores (43.9%), newly created online stores (9.1%), delivery services (22.8%), collection from the store (14.4%), initiatives by local shops (7.1%) and new forms of customer communication (18.3%), such as telephone and email, Messenger services, social media and online advertising.

However, despite the ingenuity and creativity of the retail trade, the crisis has had a significantly negative impact on business.

The current situation has forced 45.6% of shop owners to implement reduced working hours, while 18.6% have had to make staff redundant.

The toy manufacturers participating in the survey are likewise feeling the effects of the crisis, with 52.6% enforcing reduced working hours, 43.4% asking employees to work from home and 22.7% having to let staff go. At the same time, the companies are supporting their retail partners by extending payment deadlines and granting discounts, or by helping them to set up an online store or by sending products directly to their customers.

The measures introduced to soften the impact of the crisis are also giving rise to positive aspects, according to the survey results.

Manufacturers and retailers have created new methods of customer communication, launched digital offerings earlier than originally planned or discovered them for the first time. They have seized the opportunity to modify their business models, trialled new working models, improved in-house crisis management, or strengthened team spirit.

Respondents are consequently relatively optimistic about the year ahead: 25.8% of retailers and 32% of manufacturers expect to make up for the dramatic fall in sales through new sales channels, whereas 49.7% and 45.5% respectively believe their businesses will recover.

“The findings of the survey reflect the current mood in the toy industry,” said Ernst Kick, ceo of Spielwarenmesse eG. “While the crisis is posing a huge challenge for trade and industry, it is also accelerating the implementation of new, forward-looking measures.”

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