ASTRA Addresses Internet Sales Issues

Research commissioned by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) on the implications of Internet retailing for the specialty toy industry was presented at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy. Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, conducted the study.

Key findings showed that online toy sales have grown by 22 percent over the past year, making toys one of the fastest growing categories in online shopping, which grew 13 percent overall during the same period. It also found that shoppers are increasingly using smartphones to compare prices and check product availability while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. It also showed that state and federal policies tilt the competitive playing field in favor of online retailers by exempting remote sellers from collecting the sales taxes that brick-and-mortar stores are required to collect.

All-in-all, the research showed that Internet retailers present a significant competitive challenge for independent brick-and-mortar stores—in many respects, a challenge that is more severe than that of big-box and other chain retailers.

ASTRA members can find a complete copy of the Internet sales white paper on ASTRA’s newly updated website at www.astratoy.org.

ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy Biggest Yet

ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, currently in progress in Anaheim, Calif., has posted a record number of attendees, according to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. While final counts will not be available until Marketplace & Academy is over, early indications are that this year’s crowd was 20 percent to 30 percent bigger than last year.

“Once again, independent toy retailers are showing that they are committed to learning, investing in new products, and finding the best deals in the industry,” says Kathleen McHugh, president of ASTRA. “Even in the midst of an extended economic downturn, ASTRA members continue to tend to the basics of their businesses. They work hard and they work smart, and taking full advantage of ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy is part of that equation.”

Next year’s ASTRA Marketplace & Academy—its 20th—will be held during June in
Baltimore. Dates will be announced.