ECONOMY

Toy retailers are riding out the financial crisis

If there is one part of the retail sector that seems to be weathering the crisis without significant losses, it?s toy retailers, who are expecting to see a healthy surge in sales within the next couple of weeks as Christmas approaches. Retailers are guardedly optimistic that while they have certainly experienced a drop in turnover this year, shoppers will continue to spend on toys for children even though they have restricted their purchases in most other areas.

The signs so far are positive for market leader Jumbo, which saw sales inch into the black in the July-October period and has been investing steadily in advertising, with the drive picking up steam in the runup to the holidays. Jumbo is one of only a handful of Greek companies that saw a rise in profits in the July-September period – of 7.6 percent – which allowed it both to go ahead with its investment program and to increase capital return. Since July, the toy chain has inaugurated four new outlets, increasing its network to 56 stores, while in the first half of 2012 it will be opening two new ones, in Greece and Bulgaria.

Moustakas has also been moving in positive territory since the start of the year, with sales seeing an increase of around 15 percent in comparison to 2010, boding very well indeed for the holiday season. The toy chain recently added two new stores to its network, one in Elliniko on the southern coast of Athens and the other at the River West Mall in Rendi, near Piraeus. It also relaunched its Erythraia outlet in the northern Athenian suburb after a full revamp of the 4,000 square meter space, while it has plans for further expansion in 2012.

Northern Greece-based toy retail company Kou-Kou is still awaiting a court decision after filing for protection from its creditors under Article 99, though its network of 30 stores remains in operation and it has signed deals with more than 15 suppliers for sales of products by other firms. Kou-Kou is also considering increasing its share capital.

Greece?s first online toy store, www.welovetoys.gr, has also seen some very promising activity, even though it has only been operating for a few months. The retailer places special emphasis on customer services and guarantees the lowest market prices, as well as fast delivery. According to managing director Dionysis Zivas, average purchases are in the 50-euro price range, while the e-store has seen more than 350,000 visitors in the first six months of operation, 70 percent of whom are unique users.