When we launched our campaign in 2012, over half the stores we surveyed were using ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ signage on toy shelves. In our 2016 survey we found no signs at all.
We’re pleased that so many retailers have made changes, or committed to do so, there’s still more that retailers can do to make sure children feel free to choose the toys that interest them. Please let toy stores know what you think – use the contact details below, and our tips to help you.
Center Parcs’ on-site toy shops took gender labelling a step further, with signs telling shoppers the kind of fun that’s on offer for ‘Justboys’ or ‘Justgirls’! They originally told us that their toyshop refurbishment had had ‘very positive feedback’ from customers, but they confirmed in January 2014 that all the gender-specific signs have been removed. Read our letter to Center Parcs from May 2013.
You can Tweet Center Parcs directly, or contact Nuance Group, who run the toy stores, to tell them what you think.
Post: The Nuance Group (UK) Ltd.
Unit 42 Oriana Way
Nursling Industrial Estate
Hampshire SO16 0YU
We wrote to them, and many supporters tweeted them back in May 2013. They finally responded in October with the good news that they are to remove the ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toy signs in stores. Read more about the changes.
Why not tell them what you think?
The Entertainer announced in July 2013 that they would replace all their ‘girls toys’ and ‘boys toys’ signs with themes such as ‘Action and adventure’ and ‘Construction’ in all stores by Christmas the same year. However the blue flooring and signage for ‘action and adventure’, pink for ‘pretend and play’ still send clear messages about what boys and girls are expected to enjoy. Read about our meeting with The Entertainer.
Tell The Entertainer what you think of the changes:
Post: Rebecca Rees | Head of Marketing
Boughton Business Park,
Fenwick didn’t respond to our letter asking them to remove their ‘Girls’ and ‘Boys’ signs in their toy departments. Read our letter to Fenwick. But the signs have been replaced with thematic signs such as ‘Dolls’ and ‘Craft’.
Let Fenwick know what you think.
You can find contacts for individual stores, or Tweet or write to their flagship Newcastle store.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Hobbycraft came out top in our 2013 survey of toyshops. We’re delighted that Hobbycraft have replaced their ‘Craft kits for girls’ signs with gender-neutral signs organising their kits by theme and type.
Why not get in touch and tell them what you think?
Hobbycraft Trading Limited
7 Enterprise Way
Bournemouth International Airport
John Lewis in store toy sections do a great job of organising toys by genre, not by gender, so we were glad to see in 2016 that they’d dropped the ‘Gifts for boys/Gifts for girls’ filters on their website. In response to our letter to John Lewis they had said that they used gender filters as an additional way for customers to view toys, and that they were popular. Read John Lewis’s reply, and our response.
Post (for stores)
Customer Relations Department
PO Box 3586
Glasgow, G73 9DW
Post (for online)
Customer Relations Department
PO Box 19615
Erskine, PA8 6WU
Morrison’s told us in June 2013 via Twitter that they would be taking down their ‘Boys Toys’ and ‘Girls Toys’ signs, saying “We’re really sorry about this. Please be assured that all the old signage is being updated.”
Morrisons came out as the worst offender for gendered marketing in our 2013 toyshop survey, with the old signs still in widespread use, or replaced by identical pink and blue signs with the words ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ removed – not much of a step forward as they still tell children there are two kinds of toys, pink ones and blue ones…
We’ve sent a copy of the survey to Morrisons and asked for their response but have not yet had a reply – read our letter to Morrisons.
Email Morrisons using their online customer services form.
Following contact from Let Toys Be Toys M&S said in May that they were reviewing their toy ranges, and subsequently announced that all their own-brand toys will be gender-neutral by Spring 2014. See our correspondence with M&S.
While the old ‘Lil’ miss arty’ crafts and ‘Boys stuff’ science and tech toys are still being sold, new, inclusive ranges are now on the shelves, including colourful art materials for boys and girls, and all toys are displayed under signs saying ‘Toys and Books for Kids’ instead of ‘Boys’ or ‘Girls’.
Tell M&S what you think:
Executive Director, Marketing
Marks & Spencer Plc
35 North Wharf Road
Every single toy in Next’s Christmas 2012 toy range was packaged and labelled as ‘Boys stuff’, from plastic jungle animals to pocket fans, torches and dinosaurs. We’re pleased that their toy range for Christmas 2013 was more inclusive. Read our letter to Next.
Let Next know what you think:
Next Retail Ltd
Sainsbury’s responded to our letter, saying that they agree with the direction of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign, and that ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ signage in stores is already being phased out, and gender categories removed from their website. Read our correspondence with Sainsbury’s.
Please let Sainsbury’s know what you think:
Tesco have said they will be removing all gender labels from toys on their website, and from stores. We do still occasionally hear about Boys’ and Girls’ Toys signs still up – do send us photos and location if you see any. Tesco have also been doing a good job of including boys and girls playing together, and playing in non-stereotypical ways in their toy catalogues and adverts.
Tell Tesco to keep up the good work:
We’re thrilled that Toys R Us have committed to work towards marketing toys in a more inclusive way, and that this announcement generated so much media coverage and discussion of the issue of gendered toy marketing. We also raised with them the issue of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ filters on their website in December 2014. We followed up with Toys R Us in May 2015 – read our letter – and were thrilled to see Toys R Us drop gender filters from their website in 2015. Read all posts about Toys R Us.
Let Toys R Us know what you think.
Facebook: Post to the ToysR Us Facebook page
Toys R Us,
FREEPOST NAT 3362,
TK Maxx responded to our letter saying that their shelf-edge ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toy labels would be coming down.
Let TK Maxx know what you think:
Last year, Wilkinson’s own brand toys had prominent ‘Just for boys’ or ‘Just for girls’ on the packs. We tweeted Wilko in July 2013 to ask about their toy range and they replied: “We are in the process of updating our packaging which does take on board feedback, but this obviously takes a little time. The new packaging will be in store later this year.”
Let Wilko know what you think
Email Wilko using their customer service online form.
No response yet from…
Asda has changed its website to market toys in a more inclusive way, sorting them by type, age range and brand. We’ve written to them to ask them to take down the ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs from stores too, and we didn’t find any in our 2016 survey, but they still use ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ in shelf-edge labels. Read our letter to Asda.
Early Learning Centre claim in their Twitter bio that their toys “help children grow into happy, self-confident people”, so it’s great to see them living up to this claim with inclusive photography and toys labelled and categorised by activity. But pink and blue are still being used to reinforce the idea that boys and girls have separate toys. Read our full open letter to ELC. We haven’t yet had a reply.
Some WHSmith shops use ‘Girls’ and ‘Boys’ toys signage in store, and there are gender filters on the toys on their website. We wrote to WH Smith to explain why we think they should change their policy. Read our letter to WH Smith. We didn’t find any girls and boys signs in 2016.
Tell WH Smith what you think.
For more information see the results of our 2016 survey of retailer stores, websites and toy catalogues.