Last month the great and good of the toy industry gathered in New York for the annual Toy of the Year awards where prizes are handed out for everything from ‘Most Collectable’ to ‘Action Figure of the Year’. Thanks to the phenomenal success of films like Toy Story 4 and the ubiquitous Baby Shark song, it’s been a bumper year for manufacturers.
However, one issue that the industry has failed to get to grips with is reducing the number of recalls required. Last year saw the second highest number of toy recalls on record (641) and with only two months of 2020 gone, this year looks set to be much the same. Manufacturers have issued 96 recalls so far this year, with some familiar issues at the top of the list.
In 2019 choking was the second biggest reason for recall, accounting for 28 percent of all notifications (250 out of 641). Thus far in 2020, the issue has much gotten worse with choking now cited in nearly half of all alerts (49%), overtaking the previous number one cause of recall, dangerous chemicals. Chemicals has dropped to second on the list (38), followed by injuries (10), strangulation (9), damage to hearing (2), burns (1), entrapment (1), and suffocation (1).
However, one area that has seen significant improvement is environmentally-related recalls. Last year manufacturers were issuing just under 5 recalls a month on average due to environmental non-compliance, yet so far there hasn’t been a single incidence in 2020. Although it is still early in the year, this dramatic decrease indicates that manufacturers and retailers alike have gotten to grips with the problem.
How COVID-19 could disrupt 2020
It should come as no surprise that China was responsible for the vast majority of recalls last year (549) and the trend has continued so far this year with 70 of the 96 alerts originating in the far east. This was followed by Unknown (20), then Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the United States, and Bulgaria all with one apiece.
However, given the on-going Coronavirus outbreak and the huge hit that it has had on all types of Chinese manufacturing, there is a chance that this figure will fluctuate dramatically in the coming months. Savvy retailers often have alternative sources for their goods in case supply chains are disrupted and so alerts from other countries could increase in the short-term.
In the long run, once the outbreak is over and Chinese factories seek to ramp production levels up again, we could also see a spike in the number of recalls as companies frantically try to make up for lost time, especially if it coincides with the release of summer blockbusters.
The pandemic and associated economic turmoil has introduced far greater uncertainty into global supply chains and companies need to make sure they’re ready for an unexpected recall at any time.