Nursery Today gives an insight into the international markets with a recent survey from members of the BCMi

As many of you know Nursery Today is the only UK member of the BCMi (Baby Care Magazines International). The editors of the various magazines from around the world gave their views as to how their countries are faring during these challenging times. 

POLAND 

Urszula Kaszubowska, editor-in-chief of Branża Dziecięca 

1 – In March and April when all shops were closed, the market moved to the Internet but it was not the best solution for every producer/distributor, because not every company cooperates with online shops. Generally toys (board games, TV/console games, bricks, educational products) are doing better than ever. Baby hygiene products are doing well too. But prams and car seats sales fell by several percentage points below the normal level. Since May 4th all shops are open again and things are getting better.  

2 – Even though the shops are open again, people still prefer online shopping. In March sales value of toys increased by 34% (vs February) and baby products by 10%. But many people have lost their jobs (in April the unemployment rate increased by 6% and may rise to 10-11% by the end of this year), so consumers will start saving and choose cheaper offers on the market. 

3 – Many Polish companies have not decided yet whether to attend Kind + Jugend this year. All Polish exhibitions planned for the Spring are postponed to Autumn. 

CHINA 

The member magazine Nursery China applied to May Liang, President of the China Toy and Juvenile Products Association 

1 – For those nursery producers who do export business, many orders have been postponed and some cancelled because of the pandemic. For producers who focus on the domestic market, however, business hasn’t been affected much.  

– In China, consumer behaviour changed a lot because of the nationwide quarantine. Many consumers shifted their shopping from bricks-and-mortar to the e-commerce channel. Taobao, JD, T-mall are the top three online shopping platforms. Especially during the quarantine time, the sales on JD increased dramatically: since JD has its own shipping system, products can be delivered more on time compared with others. 

3 – Due to the pandemic, most trade shows have been cancelled or postponed to the second half of the year. In China, some show organizers start trying digital exhibitions which showcase their exhibitors and products via website or app on Wechat. However, digital exhibition as a new concept received more attention when it was firstintroduced into the market, while offline trade exhibition is irreplaceable to the industry, because people like to touch and feel the physical products and prefer to talk to each other face to face. Since the situation in China is better now, 2020 China Kids Expo is preparing as planned, to be held from October 21 to 23. 

SWEDEN 

The member magazine Lek & Babyrevyn applied to Camilla Eklöf, Wonderful Times Group, distributor of toys and baby products 

Not many of our suppliers are producing in Sweden, but the ones who do are in the plastic industry and it seems they are doing well in terms of sales. The fact that staff are at home due to coronavirus restrictions are affecting delivery times with some taking extra weeks, but demand for their products has not diminished. However other distributors are having a tough time if they do not have a wide product portfolio. 

Not a lot of shopping at retail: the buying pattern has moved away from the physical shop and onto the web. The first few weeks of coronavirus affected all baby business since many people were cautious in spending money, perhaps afraid of losing jobs: it caused a much more careful shopping pattern. A lot of care and hygiene products were sold, which are the basic products always needed. After some time passed, boredom took over and shopping was the thing to do when being at home. 

ITALY 

Daniele Caroli, Parents’ Choice International Managing Editor, applied to Luca Tomasi, CEO of L’Inglesina Baby, nursery products manufacturer 

In order to carry on with our activities companies have enforced all the necessary protocols to protect their workers’ health. We have done our best to assist consumers through social media, personal shoppers, direct contacts, having to fill the void left by the shops’ closure. Many retailers however have reacted enhancing their online presence and service to their customers with home deliveries and personalized support and advice. We have granted delays of payment to several retailers. 

In Europe now most shops have reopened and the market is lively again, because many consumers just postponed their purchases. Consumers are more determined and faster in their decisions. There has been a strong slowdown in sales for buggies and car seats, but there should be a recovery when families will start moving again. 

THE NETHERLANDS 

Carola Siksma-Ruiters, editor-in-chief of Baby Wereld 

To everyone’s surprise, sales in the Netherlands have remained stable. Of course, some stores were closed but the loss of sales was compensated with online sales. Some producers/distributors experienced a significant decline in sales. There were worries about delay in deliveries from other countries who had a total lockdown. But we had no panic and given the circumstances, the expectations are quite optimistic. Overall there is understanding for each other’s position in the crisis and people are willing to cooperate, for example to do joint promotions or agree about new payment terms. 

Consumers bought more online. The drop in consumer confidence is of some concern. Slight decreases are expected, but the mood is quite positive. 

Everybody is very curious to know how big international fairs such as Kind + Jugend will proceed with the government measures, security, social distance, hygiene etc. We expect it will be a European fair only this year. In the Benelux we see that fairs are postponed or will be held in September. Smaller, national fairs will prove more attractive to visit than international fairs because they are less crowded, have more space for a distancing plan, can be reached by car, and offer the possibility to make appointments with clients. This gives people confidence! 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION 

Tatyana Butskaya, publisher of Parents’ Choice and President of the Vybor Roditeley association 

According to the results of a research carried out by INFOline Internet portal, 25% of Russian suppliers and retailers are expecting a 10% decrease of sales by the end of 2020, a remarkable recession as compared to last year. Despite the fact that retail shops in many regions have resumed their work, consumer demand has dropped significantly. As it usually happens in times of crisis, people tend to spend less. Online retail shops, on the contrary, show exponential sales growth, but demand is shifting towards cheaper products. Market players put hopes on deferred demand, as families with newborns will still need strollers and car seats when self-isolation is over. Many big producers haven’t laid off staff and don’t want to lose valuable specialists, but make use of support measures offered by the government. 

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