Good news is scarce when toy retailers and manufacturers look at the business with building blocks, board games and dinosaur figures.

Because gaming will probably be more expensive.

"I receive new price lists from the producers almost every day," says Wieland Sulzer, chairman of the BVS toy retailer association, which runs a 1,500 square meter store with all kinds of children's items in Marburg.

Manufacturers would add between 5 and 15 percent.

"For individual products that even goes up to 30 percent."

Timo Kotowski

Editor in business.

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The good news for gift buyers: The new lists will only apply from January 1st.

Before that, parents and grandparents can go shopping for a little cheaper Christmas presents, if it weren't for the bad news for them: There is a lack of supplies because containers for transport from factories in Asia are scarce and expensive and because materials - granules for plastic figures, circuit boards for electronic toys, Board game paper goods - harder to come by.

The flow of deliveries is “catastrophic” at the moment, complains Sulzer.

He has ordered products worth more than 13,000 euros from a manufacturer he does not want to name.

With the order confirmation came the nasty surprise for him.

The supplier only charged goods with a value of 684 euros because he could no longer deliver quickly.

"Bring flexibility with gifts"

In the second Corona year, the industry cannot complain about a lack of demand. The toy manufacturer association DVSI learned from a Yougov study that 40 percent of Germans even used toys as a "therapeutic" in the Corona dreariness. 37 percent wanted to give playing more space in their everyday life in the future. But there is a lack of supplies for the playroom.

Sulzer's association asserts that the specialist dealers filled their warehouses early on.

However, the advice to buy gifts as soon as possible as soon as children have finished writing their wish lists may not really fit in with this.

According to a survey by the Munich Ifo Institute, the complaints about delivery problems in the toy industry are the loudest.

“Consumers have to have a certain flexibility when it comes to Christmas gifts,” says Klaus Wohlrabe, who heads the Ifo surveys.

Lego expands market leadership

Ultimately, scarcity can jeopardize records. “The big question for us is whether the industry will be able to exceed the strong growth of the previous year in 2021,” says Joachim Stempfle from the toy market researcher Npdgroup. 2020 was a jubilee year, buyers in Germany spent the record amount of 3.7 billion euros on gaming - a rate of increase of 11 percent for the industry, which has already enjoyed a 3 percent plus. By the end of October 2021, sales increased again by 8 percent.

But the dealer association BVS has become cautious.

He only expects to be able to keep 4 percent of the growth through the Christmas business.

Stempfle also warns of too much euphoria: “The positive trend comes from the first four months of the year.” After Easter, demand decreased, and there was no more growth for the industry overall in the summer quarter.

All the more stand out producers who were able to sell more by the end of October - above all the brick company Lego.

"Lego tops the list of the fastest growing manufacturers and is thus expanding its lead as the market leader," says Stempfle.

But the Danes' entire kit portfolio does not ensure that either.

The boost in sales is largely due to complex Lego technology sets as well as construction kits for Star Wars films and stories about Harry Potter, a student of magic.

Five of these articles made it into the list of the ten best-selling articles in October.

The American Mattel Group is profiting from the renaissance of the Barbie doll, which was sidelined years ago, while the Simba-Dickie Group from Fürth completes the growth trio of the industry thanks to the model cars from the Majorette and Jada brands.

"Price increases cannot be avoided"

Ulrich Brobeil, managing director of the toy manufacturer association DVSI, sees a "boom with two faces". After years of reluctance, almost half of the local companies hired additional employees in 2021. But according to Brobeils, more sales will not mean more profit for many companies. “The significantly increased expenses for the supply chains are depressing profitability,” he says. "Price increases are unavoidable."

The rents for containers to ship goods to Germany have increased tenfold at their peak, and the transport takes longer.

Two thirds of the toys on German shelves come from China.

But those who manufacture in Europe like Lego and Playmobil can also sense bottlenecks - if plastic granulate for the injection molding machines that make figures and building blocks come from the Far East.

The corona crisis is also putting a strain on the relationship between retailers and manufacturers.

Producers see online sales as becoming more and more important, the BVS dealer association fears that in the second year of the pandemic, only 18 percent of the money spent on toys will flow into specialist dealers' tills; by the middle of the last decade, their market share was twice as large.

The fact that the manufacturers' association DVSI comes up with a survey according to which a majority of 59 percent want to go to the city centers less often to shop in specialist shops, even after the pandemic, should not please.

BVS President Sulzer is already reprimanding the producers for their strategies: “The gaps that exist on retailers 'shelves cannot be seen in many of the manufacturers' online shops.

I cannot speak of fairness. "

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