Irish parents to spend most in Europe on Christmas toys
IRISH parents will spend more on toys this Christmas than anyone else in Europe.
A survey by eBay Ireland found parents here will spend an average of €278 on toys and presents for their children.
This is nearly twice as much as German parents, who will spend €143, while French parents will spend €188, the survey of 1,000 adults found.
Spending on toys took a nosedive after the recession hit, but toy stores say it has stabilised and there has been a slight improvement this year.
Unpublished Central Statistics Office figures reveal that we spent €446m on games and toys in specialist stores in 2008, but this plummeted to €343m a year later.
However, toy spending stabilised at €341m in 2010, and retailers said they'd seen an improvement in 2012. The figures do not include toy purchases from supermarkets and other types of store, which are also significant.
Smyths said they'd experienced a small growth in sales in 2012, led primarily by an increase in online purchases from their Irish website.
They had their busiest day ever online last Monday, a spokesman said. One-third of all toy sales take place in the last two months of the year in advance of Christmas.
"We've seen a marked change in behaviour towards parents purchasing earlier in this two-month period and not leaving things to the last minute," he said.
Ebay Ireland said toy sales were up 7pc year on year as people were more savvy about searching online earlier, with 31pc of people starting their Christmas shopping in November.
Children may not be getting everything on their wishlist anymore, but parents are still doing their best to get them their number one choice, said Gareth Staunton, owner of the toystore Nimble Fingers in Stillorgan, Dublin.
Nimble Fingers has been in business for 50 years, and as a niche business focusing on arts and crafts and wooden and educational toys, it has a steadier trade than the big players who would be more vulnerable to economic swings, he said.
"We don't do Barbie or the licensed stuff you can get anywhere, we focus on a range of slightly more unusual toys as well as some of the longtime favourites such as Lego and Playmobil," said Mr Staunton.
Board games remain particularly popular at Christmas, with many made by Hasbro in Waterford. Ringboards and wooden jigsaws have also been strong sellers this year, Mr Staunton added.