by STEVE PASIERB, president and CEO, The Toy Association

From business restrictions, mandated closures, and supply chain disruptions to the restructuring of day-to-day family life as millions of parents navigate working from home and childcare, we are certainly experiencing unprecedented times. To all of our members and the wider toy community: The Toy Association team is here for you, acting both proactively and responsively to protect all and meet the needs of our friends and colleagues across the business of toys. 

As Congress and legislatures shift priorities, the work of our Federal and State Government Affairs Committees and External Affairs team continues, making certain no risks to the industry go unaddressed while also working to surface new issues and protect businesses as swiftly changing coronavirus-related rules and regulations are discussed by lawmakers. I’d like to outline some of the actions and activities we are engaged in, and I ask anyone reading this article who has questions or comments on how we can further help you to please reach out at info@toyassociation.org. A member of our team will respond promptly.

  • The Toy Association has created a grassroots letter to help toy companies connect with local legislators and urge them to ensure that toys remain accessible to American children and families during the pandemic. We know that toys are essential to home learning and are a source of comfort and happiness to so many kids and adults alike. What’s more, the toy industry has a vital economic impact of $97.2 billion and supports more than 623,000 U.S. jobs. Join us in our advocacy by adding your company-specific details to this letter and sending it to your local legislator. 
  • With state-mandated business closures impacting a range of companies, particularly those with products Made in America, we are working on the issue with a number of states and encouraging waiver processes. For example, the New York State application may be found here.
  • The toy world continues to face challenges with outrageous new 60% tariffs in India on toys made in China, as well as a burdensome new quality control measure. The Toy Association is working with and communicating with colleagues at the Toy Association of India, has weighed in with the Indian Bureau of Standards, and has communicated with the Ministry of Commerce.
  • Many toymakers are concerned about the recent announcement that Amazon has prioritized incoming shipments of vital goods directly related to the outbreak while blocking others. It has been stated that this policy is in place through April 5 and will be reevaluated. As this situation has occurred elsewhere in the retail sector, we simply encourage patience and know that both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar sellers want to offer toys and play products but have many challenges to master first.
  • Our colleagues at the China Toy and Juvenile Products Association report that China is allowing 50% of staff back into their offices each day yet are still under strict anti-virus procedures. In-person meetings are not encouraged, and big conferences and exhibitions planned for the first half of the year are canceled or postponed. Likewise, with each passing day more and more factories increase capacity and output. 
  • Parents are looking for ways to engage in home learning with their children, as well as to destress and distract from the current events. The Genius of Play is a world-class resource for play ideas and now has an expanded Learning at Home page with virtual tools and play ideas to keep kids engaged as parents work from home. These resources for play and learning are being communicated daily across The Genius of Play’s Facebook and Instagram channels (#thegeniusofplay) and through newsletters to parents and teachers. Toy Association member companies are encouraged to share the resources and experiences they’re creating and using by emailing them to info@thegeniusofplay.org to be added to the lineup. 

While looking at data from past recessions and subsequent recoveries shows hopeful good news for quick turnarounds for the business of toys once our normal rhythms and patterns of society reemerge, the way back for the toy and play sector will take time while our ability to work together, share, and help one another will absolutely hasten recovery for all.  Let’s each give a hand and do whatever we can to help our friends and competitors alike rise. The Toy Association wishes the very best to you, your families, your employees, and your coworkers.