With more than a fifth of the world’s population now enduring lockdown or severe social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are struggling to juggle home-schooling children with their own disrupted work schedules. Aiming to gain a little peace and quiet, some may hope that their children will be entertained by a new toy. However, recall figures from the last month show that the pandemic may already be having a significant impact on manufacturing processes with a swathe of unsafe toys being released.
The last four weeks have seen a whopping 81 recalls, almost double the four-week average from 2019 (49). There have been problems with everything from play mats to puzzle pieces, with choking (42) being cited as the number one cause for recall, followed by dangerous chemicals (39), injuries (8), burns (3), fire (1), strangulation (1), damage to sight (1), suffocation (1), and environment (1).
One possible reason for the spike in recalls over the last month is that the majority of recalled products originated in China (69) which, until recently, was the country worst affected by the outbreak. The sudden closure of a large number of factories and businesses in the Hubei province could be a partial explanation for why more faulty toys have been on sale as manufacturers rush to shift supply chains. Outside of China, the country of origin for many products was unknown (9) although Poland (1), Vietnam (1), and Belarus were all responsible for one apiece.
Coronavirus has created huge global disruption and a major economic slowdown that will continue to be felt for a long time. For major toy brands, there are already a host of problems to deal with. Supply chains have been disrupted, workers have been told to stay away from work, and demand from customers is already dipping substantially across a number of sectors. Worse, there are more hazards coming down the pipeline when the economy does look to get back on its feet, such as the loss of essential knowledge and skills should furloughed workers no longer be available, all of which could result in chaotic production processes.
Toy recalls are always a highly emotive issue for consumers. Unfortunately, looking ahead we expect a great deal more unpredictability in terms of recalls, especially in terms of where the threats are originating, as well as a sizeable overall increase. Brands need to be ready to react at a moments notice should they discover faulty products being sold.