Creepy Crawl….

The title is supposed to be a bit of an unsuccessful play on words, substituting Pub Crawl. So having failed dismally, I shall move on to content.

Over the last few weeks I have been visiting customers, bricks and mortar independent retailers and online operators, trying to get a Halloween overview and I am delighted to say(most), looking down the barrel of the last week, they all look good and are very positive.

I have also looked at the high street multiples , mainly the big supermarkets and the discount operators. In my opinion, I am not at all surprised the independents are doing well as the big boys have only got one thing going for them and that is price. Their ranges are uninspiring, they lack excitement and do not seem to have moved on from five years ago. I won’t be thanked for suggesting where I think they could simply correct this. Quite honestly they wouldn’t be interested and why should they. They will sell out anyway.

What they do offer is a tight range at low prices for those families who have neither time  nor budget to arrange a Halloween event. But in my view they miss the opportunity to make more of store theatre encompassing the food and drink sections. I believe this would make whole event much bigger for everybody . I don’t see why the  food industry can’t make it number two to Christmas in terms a single event.

What I did not see in the supermarkets is any evidence that they had kids costumes which conformed to the children’s nightwear regs. They all carried tags warning of the dangers of fire and naked flames, but little else to suggest the product was any different to anyone else’s .

The reality is that I don’t think the players in our industry   see the multiples as true competitors. You have both plowed your own furrows. 

Whatever your sector , all the signs are this will be a bumper Halloween season for all. The one very major difference between the multiples and the party industry, and that is, if Halloween didn’t exist, the multiples could live without it, I think the party market in the UK might not.

And no, I never went into a pub ……

Ali Baba and the 40 thieves…

Ali Baba, did not have 40 thieves , as he was not the bad guy, the thieves were,however, Alibaba (as in China’s huge on line platform) is looking to pinch some of the European market, from the likes of eBay and Amazon.

They are opening offices in Italy, Germany and France. There have been offices in the UK for some time . They have also appointed an ex TESCO executive, and they have also appointed a President, an ex Goldman Sachs executive to develop their international markets.

Currently they have a bit of a reputation for selling ‘hookey goods’ , but the other platforms haven’t  exactly got a clean bill of health, so it is probably not that bigger deal . Now they are investing heavily to develop and consequently ‘knick’ some market share.

The other side of the coin is that they are offering opportunities to European operators to sell into China.

Is there anything to worry about? Probably, but the problems will be focused on the online players in our market. Though, there is some good news and that is a third major player in the market place , which may mean they others maybe forced to look at their terms to platform users. 

Should retailers be concerned? Everyone needs to be aware of what their competitors are doing. Initially, I cannot see it have any immediate effect. It’s a bit like have one giant market effecting the local grocer, the second one will probably take the majority of the business from the first one. If you get my drift.

Flipping ‘Eck ..2 posts in a week

I don’t want to keep going on about this but I think it is imperative that everyone in this industry is kept uptodate.

Daily Mail

Huffington Post

Mums are worried about the safety of their children’s Halloween costumes and are unaware about the safety precautions that have been put in place by some retailers, according to a new survey.
The fear comes after Claudia Winkleman’s daughter’s costume was set alight in 2014. It was later confirmed fancy dress costumes are considered “toys” rather than “clothes” when it comes to fire safety and so are not always subject to such stringent safety checks.
In a survey of 2,000 mums, three quarters said they wanted stringent laws ensuring all children’s dressing-up costumes are flame retardant to be introduced.
Only 14% of mums thought shop-bought costumes were safe and 55% were unsure if any rules had changed in terms of the safety of costumes.
The survey was completed by online video network, Channel Mum.
In response to the results, Channel Mum produced a video (above), in which two vloggers conduct a non-scientific test at home, using candles and costumes from popular high street stores.
They found that when the costumes were held above flames, they caught alight – showing the importance of considering fire safety when it come’s to having children’s costumes and toys around open flames.
Following a campaign to raise the safety standards of fancy dress costumes started by Claudia Winkleman in June 2015 many shops have worked to improve the safety of their costumes.
The Government ordered Trading Standards to carry out spot checks on costumes to see if they meet safety standards and while it’s not a legal requirement, many of the shops have gone through with it.

Claudia Winkleman Speaks For The First Time About Daughter’s ‘Life Changing’ Injuries After Halloween Costume Caught Fire

Claudia Winkleman Shocked After Watchdog Reveals Dangers Of Children’s Costumes

Sainsbury’s have promised their children’s dress up range will meet the same strict fire safety standards that apply to nightwear.
Tesco and Asda will be applying more rigorous testing, and Marks & Spencer will also do so on future lines.
James Brown, director of non-food at Sainbury’s said: “We have looked at every detail of our children’s dress-up range in creating our new standard and believe that it will be industry-leading.
“This has not been a simple task, but the safety of children is our number one priority and introducing more rigorous safety standards for our children’s dress-up is the right thing to do.
“All clothing carries some fire risk, but we hope that introducing our own rigorous testing standards that test clothes as clothes rather than as toys will be the first step towards safer testing across the industry.”
As well as the major supermarkets, other online retailers selling Halloween costumes have also made their heightened safety testing clear on their website.
On, a children’s Halloween butterfly costume available from ages one upwards states: “In the interest of children’s safety, this costume has been tested to toy safety standards BS EN71.
“In addition, we have tested this garment to the same fire regulations as children’s nightwear. Despite additional testing, please be safe around candles and naked flames including tea lights in pumpkins and sparklers.”
If purchasing costumes online, it is worth checking all product descriptions under “care and information” to see whether the retailer has relayed this information on fire safety.

Halloween Costumes For Babies: Best Fancy Dress Ideas

It is all poor journalism , yet it is out there and what the public see. The best bit of journalism I have heard, was Tony Livesy a BBC 5 live presenter. He said….it makes sense to avoid flames and use fake(led) tea lights…

The Feds are in town….

Yep, that’s right the FBI are on our side or at least they are in the USA.

According to the web site the Feds are going to crack down on counterfeiting.

The FBI announced on Friday that it was launching a new strategy in collaboration with the Department of Justice, working with third-party marketplaces — such as eBay and Amazon — to enforce intellectual property laws by giving them analytical tools to work out when people might be selling fake goods…………

Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice’s attorney general, detailed the new strategy in a press release, saying that the digital age has “revolutionized how we share information, store data, make purchases and develop products.” Lynch said that strengthening defenses against cybercrime was one of her top priorities as DoJ attorney general, referencing high-profile hacking cases such as last year’s Sony and Target attacks to demonstrate the “seriousness of the threat all business[es] face” for “sophisticated adversaries to inflict real and lasting harm.”
Rich McMormick October 5th 2015

On the surface, seems like good news. But aren’t these the very same guys who didn’t do so well in the prohibition era. Yes, they arrested a lot, shot a lot, and smashed loads of bottles but it still carried on. So without all the shooting (or maybe not?) what makes them think they are going to be any more successful. Of course, they have got some major bits of technology. But so have the baddies.

In my opinion, it is political rhetoric. They make some arrests, there maybe some prosecutions, and the best scenario would be a short period where the major offenders will have to regroup. But regroup they will.

So who are our Feds? For counterfeiting it is the National Crime Agency, or posh bobbies and on a more day to day level your local trading standard officer. I can’t see dawn raids on dodgy party shops (if such a thing exists) or the premises of dodgy on line operators( there maybe the odd one) . Our industry is just not big enough to justify the resources. Even in an industry where the stakes are higher eg fashion, or jewellery they would only scrape the surface.

This is not to say we should demean any effort to clamp down on counterfeiting but realistically the only policing will have to be done by us. So when some some sharp suited salesman or woman comes into your office , offering you ‘……a bit of gear that you just gotta ‘ave, at a price you ain’t gointa believe mate….’ Tell them   ‘no thank you very much, did you know  there are teams of special forces out there looking for you…’. That will stop them in their tracks.

Anyway, if the guys in stab jackets and glock pistols do come visiting ask them if they have rung the front door bell of EBay. Having done a bit of research on eBay looking for counterfeits, looking at items such as frozen costumes, I receive an email 2 days later. Usual stuff …as you have been looking at frozen costumes, perhaps the following will be of interest….and guess what it was highlighting ..Chinese knock offs, from Chinese sites …