THE threat of lockdown has resulted in shoppers flocking to toy shops to begin their Christmas shopping early. But the message from retail outlets in Letterkenny is not to panic as there is plenty of stock and even if further restrictions are imposed they will be able to operate click and collect services or online. Manager of Smyths in Letterkenny, Kevin Doherty said they are hiring more staff to keep up with the unprecedented demand.
“People are starting shopping earlier this year but I think it is because of the threat of lockdowns and nobody wants to be stuck. Generally we wouldn’t hire as many staff at this time of year but we are going to have to hire more staff in the coming days in order to compensate for the busy period we are seeing. It is completely unprecedented for us to be this busy this early on. You generally get people starting in September because we have our sale, obviously we didn’t have our sale this year. Then you don’t get a lot of business from September to November time and then in November and December you pick up again. This year is totally different, it has been hectic from day one.”
Mr Doherty said the rumours circulating around the town that they were getting their final deliveries before Christmas was just scaremongering.
“We have plenty of stock, there is no reason to panic. Even if we were to close there is a good possibility we would be open for click and collect and service people out the door, we just wouldn’t have customers in. There was a rumour that we have got our last deliveries, it was crazy and unfounded. There is no need to worry.”
The threat of lockdown is also affecting the type of toys being bought this year and indoor games are proving popular as a way to keep children entertained at home.
“There is a lot of board games being bought this year that wouldn’t have been bought normally. Arts and crafts is up as well, again something to keep the wanes occupied indoors,” said Mr Doherty. “Lego is popular again. Our Generation is always very popular and you have your usual big hitters like LOL, Barbie and Pokemon.”
Liam Tinney of Tinneys Toys said since the announcement that Donegal was entering Level 3 demand has gone through the roof and when NPHET recommended on Sunday evening that the whole country should move to Level 5 their website “exploded”.
“It has been like that all week. Monday in here was very busy, yesterday it settled a wee bit but for the time of year it is very early,” said Mr Tinney. “I would say it is a month and a half to two months earlier than normal.
Mr Tinney also reassured customers that there is no need to panic as there is no issue with stock but said there are some delays.
“I know there is a lot of hype about it but there is no issue with stock. In fairness, stock is a wee bit slower in getting here but it is just because the demand is worldwide. It’s not just Ireland that has gone crazy. I have been speaking to reps in companies and worldwide the demand is out there,” he said. “When we went into Level 3, that Thursday people were coming in panic buying, just lifting stuff off the shelves. I think people were nervous but even if we go into Level 4 or 5 we will still be operating online.”