Sector guide: Novelty gadgets - PC Retail

Sector guide: Novelty gadgets

A look at some of the quirky devices on sale this Christmas
Author:
Publish date:
5_nov.jpg

With the VAT rate set to increase to 20 per cent in January, the future of the retail market is uncertain, and there are conflicting predictions of what this festive season will hold for the High Street.

Following Chancellor George Osborne’s emergency budget in June, The Telegraph was forecasting “a Christmas rush on the High Street to beat the VAT rise”, with shoppers looking to cram in as much spending as possible before the January 4th deadline.

However, a recent survey by market research firm Red Shift found that 86 per cent of UK consumers are aware of the impending VAT increase and over half of them intend to cut back on spending at Christmas in preparation for it*.

This might seem like bad news for the more expensive areas of the market, but it in fact opens up opportunities for retailers to sell lower priced, stocking-filler type products, from executive toys to novelty items and children’s gadgets.

Of course, executive toys have moved on from the 1970s when the businessman’s desk was not complete without a Newton’s Cradle, a suspended row of steel balls that swing from side to side, knocking against each other. Now, practically every novelty desktop item is USB powered, from miniature missile launchers to devices that can keep your coffee warm. Brands like Satzuma have carved out a niche as specialists in the sector, while e-tailer Firebox.com has now become synonymous with quirky tech gifts.

Children’s gadgets, meanwhile, often revolve heavily around character licences. As in the gaming sector, kids seem to enjoy the familiarity of their favourite cartoons. Following the success of Toy Story 3’s cinematic release earlier this year, Buzz Lightyear is enjoying a major comeback, while evergreen characters such as Hello Kitty are still proving popular.

While novelty products may not be part of your regular Christmas stock, you might want to consider that these items can provide a healthy return. According to many distributors, the lower priced novelty devices can be a real margin maker and don’t require the hassle often associated with developing new product lines. Simply display them well and keep them close to the counter and there you have it – instant impulse purchase. Merry Christmas and happy trading!

*Research by Red Shift conducted on behalf of Auto Trader.

THE CHRISTMAS MARKET
Scott Frankling, Marketing Executive, Target Components

“Novelty items are primarily stocking-fillers, yet have the ability to showcase a retailer over the Christmas period. The diversity of gadgets available, coupled with relatively low price points, provides interesting additions to shop fronts and can pull customers in. They also provide the ever-useful add-on sale at the retailer’s most important time of year.

“Sub £10 is the ideal price as this will cater to the kids’ stockings, the office ‘Secret Santa’ and the ‘silly gifts’ we buy each year. Nevertheless, gadgets and accessories that complement other purchases are also very popular, and these often exceed the £10 mark, yet are relatively cheap when compared to the primary gift.

“Whether or not the buying public is considering the VAT increase next year in the run up to Christmas is yet to be seen, but retailers will possibly buy their usual stock items in greater quantities prior to January in order to capitalise on the lower VAT.”

TARGET 3-CHANNEL HELICOPTER WITH GYROSCOPE
SRP: £18.95
Distributor: Target Components

They say: Unlike fragile foam or plastic bodied rivals, this revolutionary chopper boasts a strong metal frame, giving it unbelievable in-flight stability

Specs: Three-channel remote control, eagle head canopy, metal frame, advanced gyroscope

CANYON TRUCKHOOK WEBCAM
SRP: £29.99
Distributor: Centerprise

They say: With its bold and colorful graffiti pattern, the Truckhook is the coolest webcam ever

Specs: 1.3MP resolution, built-in microphone, video recording function, face tracking software, USB connection, compatible with Windows and Mac OS, includes free key chain and StarFish interactive game

BEN 10 MP3 PLAYER 2GB
SRP: £24.99
Distributor: Meroncourt

They say: The completely innovative rubber design and light weight make it extremely easy to use and shock-resistant

Specs: 2GB internal memory, USB connection, lithium battery, plays MP3 and WMA files, compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista

SATZUMA PLASMA BALL
SRP: £9.99
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: At a touch, blue flashes of lightning will move to greet your fingertips

Specs: USB powered, no software required, Windows and Mac OS compatible

VTECH KIDIZOOM VIDEOCAM
SRP: £60
Distributor: Direct

They say: With fun stamp, video effects and face tracking technology it’s a must for budding film makers

Specs: LCD screen, 4x zoom, shutter button, function selector, face tracking technology, video effects, fun stamp

MAGIC WAND REMOTE CONTROL
SRP: £49.99
Distributor: Firebox.com

They say: Harry Potter might be a dab hand at casting spells but we’ve yet to see him use his wand to switch off Holby City, series link EastEnders or mute Jeremy Kyle mid-rant

Specs: Learns up to 13 infrared codes from the user’s existing remote control, controls the TV using predefined gestures, sleep mode after 60 seconds of inactivity

HANNSPREE HANNSANIMAL DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME
SRP: £99.99
Distributor: Direct

They say: Wonderful gifts for animal lovers and children alike, with cute, unique 3D designs including an elephant, polar bear, panda and giraffe

Specs: Eight-inch widescreen LCD display, LED backlighting technology, 800 x 480 resolution, 64MB SDRAM, builtin six-in-one card reader, USB connection, audio, video and photo playback

EMPREX ELECTRONIC DARTBOARD
SRP: £8.95
Distributor: Target Components

They say: Players can choose different kinds of games, which makes them more interesting and challengeable

Specs: LED display, score review, voice reminders, up to 16-player games

CANYON TAILSLIDE MOUSE
SRP: £19.99
Distributor: Centerprise

They say: The stylish design and comfortable grip of the Tailslide mouse ensures a smooth navigation while being a unique computer accessory

Specs: Three buttons, scroll wheel, 800 DPI resolution, wired USB connection, Mac OS and Windows compatible, free key chain included

VTECH STORIO
SRP: £60
Distributor: Direct

They say: The world’s first animated e-book reader for children, packed with educational activities

Specs: Designed for ages three to seven, touchscreen, interactive animations

HELLO KITTY 7-INCH DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME
SRP: £54.99
Distributor: Meroncourt

They say: Thanks to its small size and 800g weight, you can take it with you wherever you want

Specs: Seven-inch LCD screen, 16:9 aspect ratio, 480 x 234 resolution, compatible with a range of media types

LEGO STOP ANIMATION CAMERA
SRP: £89.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Capture regular videos of everyday situations or be even more creative and produce your own stop animation videos

Specs: Records stop animation and regular videos, 1.5-inch rotating colour screen, SD card compatible, macro lens for extreme close ups, includes Lego Stop Animation Studio software CD, adjustable tripod and two Lego mini-figures

TOY STORY 3 BUZZ LIGHTYEAR BLASTER
SRP: £44.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Your child can film their imagined space adventures and look like Buzz while wearing this digital night vision video camera

Specs: 1.5-inch screen, digital night vision, flashlight function, built-in blaster sound effects, USB connection

HELLO KI TTY 19-INCH CUSTOMISED LCD TV
SRP: £259.99
Distributor: Meroncourt

They say: Enjoy the best technology and an exclusive design you can customise with the stickers that come included

Specs: 19-inch LCD screen, 1440 x 900 resolution, integrated DVD player, stickers included for decoration, various input options

TOY STORY 3 BUZZ LIGHTYEAR DIGITAL CAMERA
SRP: £24.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Take your favourite Toy Story character camera with you anywhere in this fun pocket-sized form

Specs: 604 x 480 resolution, holds up to 40 photos, fixed focus, USB output, powered by AAA battery

BETTY BOOP GLAM DIGITAL CAMERA 8MP
SRP: £99.99
Distributor: Meroncourt

They say: Essential for Betty Boop fans and amateur photographers

Specs: 8MP, 2.7-inch LCD screen, video mode, uses SD card memory, 3x optical zoom, 8x digital zoom, flash, USB connection, powered by AAA batteries

SATZUMA MUG WARMER
SRP: £4
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: Liven up your desk with the new USB cup warmer from Satzuma

Specs: USB powered, keeps drinks warm, on/off switch, no software required, Windows and Mac OS compatible

SATZUMA RADIO STILETTO
SRP: £9.99
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: Not only do you get the sexy classic stiletto design, but you also get a great FM radio to get your feet moving

Specs: FM radio, one touch scan button to skip between stations, doubles up as PC or MP3 player speaker

Related

5_Untitled Image 1.jpg

Sector guide: Peripherals

From keyboards and mice to webcams and toys, there are a huge variety of devices designed to hook up to a PC. Matt Grainger examines some of the latest and greatest products available on the market?