Toy shop bosses say toys should be classified as ‘essential retail’ ahead of Christmas

Toy shops have said that toys should be classified as “essential retail” ahead of Christmas.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, industry bosses have called on the Government to add the products to the list of essential retail – urging that they should be allowed to operate from 2nd December when the current lockdown in England is lifted.

The toy industry is worth £3.2 billion to the UK economy with 50 per cent of toys sold in the last quarter of the year.

But the forced closure of brick and mortar toy retailers could seriously dampen the Christmas spirit, with the UK industry risking a loss of £820 million in December if they do not reopen.

Businesses are currently trying to meet online demand and click-and-collect services but with limited courier slots, retailers will not be able to cope as Britain nears Christmas, the letter said.

The sector leads insisted they are already set up and prepared to operate under safe, Covid-compliant conditions and urged that consumers get access to toys as early in the season as possible to “spread demand and prevent last-minute panic buying”.

“This period is crucial to the survival of toy companies across the UK and without November and December trade, many companies will not survive,” warned Andrew Laughton, Chairman of the British Toy and Hobby Association and Alan Simpson, Chairman of the Toy Retailers Association.

Address Boris Johnson, they added: “Limiting toy retail at this crucial time of year will result in damaging the toy industry and will put child safety at risk.

“We would greatly value your support in adding toys to the list of essential items so we can continue to support children and families throughout the country.”

They went on to stress that toys are “essential tools of play to contribute to child development and learning” and have been particularly valuable to parents throughout lockdown.  

“Please don’t allow Covid to steal Christmas from children and families across the country,” they said.

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