Thursday 19 November 2020 3:06 pm

Toy stores demand to reopen or risk 'allowing Covid to steal Christmas'

Toy stores have urged the Prime Minister to allow their shops to open as essential businesses during lockdown, or risk allowing “Covid to steal Christmas”.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, toy industry chiefs warned that without bricks and mortar trade during November and December many stores will be forced to close permenantly.

British Toy and Hobby Association chairman Andrew Laughton and Toy Retailers Association chairman Alan Simpson said current closures “could seriously dampen the Christmas spirit”.

They have urged the government to add toy shops to the list of essential retailers “as soon as possible”, or ensure that all stores will be allowed to reopen on 2 December at the latest. 

“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,” the letter said.

If the lockdown is extended next month, or toy stores are ordered to remain closed in Tier 3 areas, the £820m trade usually secured in December will be severely impacted, they said.

Online sales and click-and-collect services are not enough to offset the impact of store closures, the letter said.

The industry also warned that the sector does not have the capacity to meet digital demand this year, meaning customers may be unable to secure all the gifts on their lists.

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

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: “We will set out our plans next week, and these will be subject to a vote in Parliament.