“As retailers, we need to find products we can market to children that aren’t sweets and soft drinks,” says Trudy Davies, from Woosnam & Davies News in Powys, Wales. “Collectables and trading cards are one way we can do that.

“There are a lot of restrictions on the sweets and confectionery items we can sell, and how we can market them,” Davies continues. “At the same time, parents and guardians are more reluctant to spend their money on things they think are harmful for their kids. We should strive to be responsible retailers and offer something that encourages children’s imaginations and is perceived as being positive.”

Sticker books and trading cards are a great way to encourage impulse purchases from parents looking to treat their children. Like most categories aimed at children, though, it’s important your collectables range is tapping into the latest trends and fashions kids are into.

“Without doubt the largest revenue opportunity comes from football trading cards and stickers, whether that be the Premier League or major tournaments such as UEFA Euro or FIFA World Cup games,” says Rebecca Smith, head of circulation at Panini.

“However, certain trends will always polarise with children, so retailers need to be aware of the emerging hot properties of the moment. Fortnite is a great example of a gaming brand that has taken the world by storm with downloads into the millions nationwide. Panini has launched the Official Fortnite Trading Card collection recently and it is the number-one sales driving opportunity at the moment.”

“There’s no point showing the sticker books to parents, you need the kids to see them”

According to Davies, the age of a child also affects the kinds of products they’re likely to buy.

“Football trading cards and stickers tend to be the most popular. We also get one-off sticker selections, such as the recent Frozen book that did really well. We’ve had a lot of Frozen products in and it’s been very popular, especially with the younger kids,” she explains.

“The football products seem to do well with the kids aged around seven or eight, while the Frozen stickers tend to do better with kids under that age.”

She also says it’s a mistake to assume that collectables such as football stickers and trading cards will only be popular with boys.

“More girls are getting interested in football. There are more girls playing in football teams, and women’s football is on television a lot now, especially with the women’s team doing so well at the World Cup,” she adds.

“There’s a knock-on effect, with girls getting more interested in football stickers and trading cards. I think the publishers should start to look at doing more sticker books and cards for women’s football.”

Of course, all children have different interests, so it pays off for retailers to try to stock a range that meets as many of these as they can.

“I think stocking a breadth of collections to cover sport and entertainment, and also all age ranges, is key to the success of the category for a retailer,” Smith explains.

“We know football is a key revenue driver, but we always make sure to have a strong girls collection on the market at the same time, because you see a huge amount of dual purchase, as parents or grandparents buy Premier League cards and stickers, but also want to reward siblings that may not be collecting football, and who might like L.O.L. Surprise!, Peppa Pig or Fortnite.”

Collectables drive sales

Both Davies and Smith say that it’s important children see the collectables lines available in store, to drive impulse sales.

“Children need to be able to see what you’re stocking,” explains Smith. “While it’s not always feasible to have packets on the shop floor, they should be displayed at till point, with starter packs near to the children’s magazines.”

With her store in a popular tourist spot in Wales, Davies adjusts ranges and layouts through the seasons.

“We change the location of products through the year. There’s a standalone magazine rack in our store, which in the summer we use to stock our puzzle magazines, as these are very popular with holiday-makers and we have promotions on them,” Davies explains. “In autumn, we put the sticker books in this section, so they really stand out, especially as it’s when the new Premier League season is in full swing.

“When we have puzzle book promotions on, we put the sticker books in one of our lower magazine racks with the kids’ magazines and comics. We’ll make sure that they’re roughly at eye level for the children as it’s important they can see them to help drive sales.

“There’s no point showing sticker books the magazines to the parents, you need the kids to see them.”

For Smith, as well as staying on top of the latest trends, when it comes to collectables it’s important not to be afraid to try new lines.

“Listen to what your customers want and challenge publishers on how they’re supporting a collection,” she explains. “Licensed publishing drives a significant amount of the collectable revenue and offers consumers comfort in a recognised brand.

“Smiths News has recently introduced a four-week delayed payment option, allowing retailers to trial collectable products without the initial financial outlay. It’s a great way to show your customers the breadth of collectables you’re stocking.”

Find out more about this key category: This week in magazines: Collectables and toys rise up

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