Retail expert, broadcaster and consumer champion, Mary Portas, is to bring her vision for the future of the high street to the UK’s number one marketplace for home and gift retail.
Speaking in conversation with Ashley Armstrong, Retail Editor at The Times, Portas will discuss how businesses, particularly those on the high street, must adopt kinder ways of behaving. Drawing on her personal philosophy honed over a lifetime’s experience of working in retail, she will outline her manifesto for change and her belief that we must make retail a better place to work for everyone.
The one-time Government high streets advisor will also reveal her advice on how struggling retailers can rebuild their relationships with customers and save their stores.
Speaking ahead of her appearance at the show, Mary Portas said: “Big retailers will give you many reasons why the high street is failing – the internet, economic climate, Brexit - but the biggest reason is that as people and consumers, we've changed our value system. We’ve realised that the old system of ‘more equals better’, is not going to be better for us as people or for our planet. The fact is, old-school consumer culture, reducing people to what they buy rather than who they are, is dying. And businesses that were set up to feed that beast are crumbling. This new era, The Kindness Economy, is going to be about sentience. It's going to be about care, respect and understanding the implications of what we are doing.”
In line with many other sectors, the toy industry endured difficult trading conditions in 2019 with a -6% drop in year on year sales. Total sales for the year were £3.2 billion, which still makes the UK toy market the largest in Europe, but with Germany now a very close second.The results were announced at Toy Fair, taking place at Olympia London this week, where hundreds of toy companies gathered to launch thousands of new and innovative products for the year ahead.
“2019 was an unusual year by any standards. The ongoing question that is Brexit undoubtedly had a dampening effect on consumer confidence whilst a general election in the middle of the busiest trading month of the year wasn’t helpful,” commented Natasha Crookes, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the British Toy and Hobby Association.
Despite the poor trading conditions the toy industry continued to innovate, with over 32,000 new products launched in 2019. Action figures achieved 9% growth whilst board games and puzzles enjoyed a 1% increase. Collectables also continued to dominate the market, with sales equivalent to 21% of all toys sold.
Miss Milly, the British brand for gorgeous, colourful jewellery and scarves, has launched a capsule collection of three scarf pins in a range of colours and designs. Scarves have been big news for the last five or six years and are still going strong, and an adornment for them is a great addition.
The new pins include a pretty peach and pink floral design, a mint and aqua piece made with squares, and a brighter, multicolour abstract pin.
“Brooches have been a great seller for us over the past couple of years,” says Sarah Watmore, founder of Miss Milly. “And we have always encouraged the use of them on scarves, hats and bags as well as coats and jackets, so it was a logical step for us to introduce scarf pins.”