For toy industry chiefs yesterday appealed directly to Boris Johnson to save Christmas – by adding toys to the essential retail list. Andrew Laughton, the chairman of the British Toy and Hobby Association and Alan Simpson, the chairman of the Toy Retailers Association, have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, imploring him: “Please don’t allow COVID to steal Christmas from children and families across the country.”
And they stressed: “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.” In the letter, they called on the Government to add toys to the list of essential retail as soon as possible, and at a minimum, ensure that toy shops are allowed to operate from December 2 when the current lockdown will be lifted in England.
“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 country,” the letter explained.
“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.
“We all have fond memories of opening presents and getting the toy we asked for on Christmas morning from Santa.”
And they added: “2020 hasn’t provided many opportunities to make happy memories and you have the power to make sure children get that chance this Christmas.”
The toy industry is worth some £3.2 billion to the UK economy with 50per cent of toys sold in the last quarter of the year.
But the forced closure of high street toy retailers as a result of the current lockdown is set to hit business hard at its most lucrative time.
Experts warn that the current closures have cost the second £400 million in November and if restrictions continued, could see another £820 million wiped off December trade.
The letter warns: “This period is crucial to the survival of toy companies across the UK and without November and December trade, many companies will not survive.”
The Government has yet to announce what restrictions will remain in place when the second national lockdown officially ends on December 2.