Are children’s toys and Christmas presents about to become more expensive ? Last week The Times carried an article suggesting that manufacturing costs in China were climbing as workers look for ever higher wages, and materials costs are rising too. It seems certain that those costs will be passed on to Western consumers, and here at Mulberry Bush we’ve already seen a number of proposed price increases from importers. Needless to say we’re negotiating hard to keep increases to a minimum, but imported toys are bound to cost more this Christmas.
One might think that it would be a good time for some of our UK toy manufacturing, lost over recent years, to come back to Britain. Sterling is comparatively weak, we have higher unemployment and a manufacturing industry that isn’t doing much at the moment. Yet I was intrigued to see this question from a toy industry member who asked in an online forum:
“Are you manufacturing toys or games in the UK? If so I’d love to hear from you with a view to forming a consortium to promote UK made toys and games”
That was back in January. As of June only one company has responded, and they are games manufacturers who still print their cardboard components here. Just one company !
Perhaps the reticence to manufacture is increased by the ever tougher legislation that surrounds toys, EU legislation that has slipped in largely unnoticed. New toy safety laws come into effect in the next few weeks, and these will only serve to reduce further the range of toys available whilst further increasing prices because of the high cost of compliance. It’s difficult to argue against it, because who would want to be responsible for injury to a child, or worse, resulting from an unsafe toy. I can’t help but think though that parents will wonder why they can no longer buy the toys they played with quite happily when children themselves, and will question the higher prices for those that are still available.