WATCH ABOVE: Lego has cut shipments to independent retailers across canada until 2015.
TORONTO – If you plan to give the gift of Lego this Christmas, the odds of finding the colourful building bricks may be stacked against you.
Sales of the popular toy have spiked early thanks in large part to the popularity of the Lego movie released earlier this year. In response, the toy giant has now stopped supplying its product to independent Canadian toy stores until next year.
“First time we’ve ever run into this situation,” said Guy Bagley, co-owner of Swag Sisters on Gerrard. “We’re hoping its not going to be too catastrophic.”
Swag Sisters is one of many independent retailers across the country that will soon feel the pinch of fewer products on its shelves. Lego makes up about 30 per cent of the store’s sales every year. Without the name brand toy, Swag Sisters fears it could loose business to large retailers who will still be supplied with regular Lego shipments.
“I would say its a good 30 per cent of our sales, if not more,” said Erin Salisbury, also co-owner of Swag Sisters. “Thats a big deal for a small independent. Our Christmas rides us through the rest of the season.”
Treasure Island toys on the Danforth will no longer receive a big Lego shipment in October. Instead, the store will have to wait until March to replenish the shelves. Store owners hope what they do have will be enough.
“It’s going to be interesting now that the news is out there, people are trying to stock pile so we could run into a shortage” said Katie MacKinnon, co-owner of Treasure Island Toys.
Treasure Island toys is also a member of the Neighbourhood Toy Stores Association of Canada. It hopes to keep customer loyalty but some say consumers may have to turn to big box stores to cross Lego off their holiday lists.
Its a situation that seems hard to believe given how popular Lego is amongst children. But it has happened before.
“Lego has been out of stock at independent retailers around the UK in 2009 so we’ve seen this before from Lego,” said Brynn Winegard, a marketing expert with Winegard & Company.
As for the shortage, Winegard says this isn’t a simple marketing move.
“It’s not as simple as simply a marketing ploy,” said Winegard. “Probably what we’re looking at here is a fulfillment and projection strategy that allows the manufacturer, in this case Lego, to never have too much or too little product at the retailers.”
Unfortunately that means taking stock that would normally go to independent retailers and shipping them to larger big box stores. Sitting in Treasure Island Toys, mom Irene Mcrae says while shopping local is ideal, the Lego shortage will make it difficult.
“Because if its not going to be in independent stores, its going to be harder to get,” Mcrae said.