• Boots_Before_580Before: Science and construction toys under 'gifts for boys' at Boots in 2012
  • Boots_After_580After: Signs replaced by 'gifts for children' in May 2013.
  • Debenhams_before_580Before: Debenhams told us that 'Boys' and 'Girls' signs made it easier for shoppers. (Croydon, June 2013, tweeted by @sillyna)
  • Debenhams_After_580After: In October 2013 Debenhams announced the would change toy departments with inclusive colours and thematic shelving. (Cork, November 2013)
  • Entertainer_before_580Before: The Entertainer toy chain organised all their stores into 'boys' and 'girls' sections.
  • Entertainer_After_580After: From 2013 the Entertainer's new store decor organises by theme, and includes pictures of girls and boys.
  • Fenwick_Before_580Before: Toys organised separately at Fenwick in Newcastle early in 2013.
  • Fenwick_After_580After: : Organised by theme by November 2013
  • Hobbycraft_Before_580Before: Craft kits for girls at Hobbycraft in March. (Reading, March 2013)
  • Hobbycraft-art-580After: Great, inclusive signs, organising by theme and activity, and new inclusive own-brand ranges. (Reading, June 2013)
  • M&S_Before_580Before: Science toys, watches, pens and animals labelled as 'Boys stuff' at M&S, while all the craft materials were branded 'Lil' Miss Arty'. (Cardiff, September 2013)
  • M&S_crafts_Dec13-580After: Marks and Spencer have said that all their toy ranges will be gender-neutral by the Spring, like this colourful new art and craft range.
  • Morrisons_@seany85_GuiseleyBefore: Morrison's told us in July that they would be removing these 'Girls' toys' and 'Boys Toys' signs from stores. (Guiseley, November 2013, supplied by @seany85)
  • Morrisons_Bolton_@JoshHapleAfter: The old signs are still up in many stores. Some branches now have these signs. We don't think this is much of an improvement. (Bolton, November 2013, supplied by @JoshHapless)
  • Next_Before_580Before: All toys were labelled as 'boys' in Next at Christmas 2012. (Cardiff, December 2012)
  • Next_After_580After: A more inclusive Toy Shop at Next this year. (Cardiff, December 2013)
  • TKMaxx_before_580Before: 'Boys' and 'girls' signs and shelf-edge labelling at TKMaxx.
  • TKMaxx_After_580After: Toys organised by theme and type.
  • Wilkinson_Before_580Before: 'Girls' and 'boys' toys signs at Wilkinson in 2012.
  • Wilkinson_After_580After: New signs, and also home-play toys in gender neutral colours with photos of girls and boys on the packaging at Wilkinson this year.

Before and after – see how toy stores changed in our first year

We launched our campaign in 2012, and by the end of 2013, we’re proud that far fewer toys were displayed under ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs. Take a look at some of the changes and read more about what retailers have committed to do.


  1. I am a mother of a 4 year old and find the new themed based signage so much better. My daughter has a doll for Christmas, as well as a robot building kit and a skateboard.

  2. Liz Hanson

    It is great to see the progress you have made! Well done 🙂 I’m sure that children will be receiving a better range of toys to hold their interest this year. However, there is still work to do; I hope that soon every parent will think it normal for boys to have one or more dolls in their toy chest, and normal for girls to have construction/science kits. Wishing the lettoysbetoys team a Happy Christmas.

  3. Abi harding

    Fantastic campaign! Well done.

    So strange to think that the retail industry were so mistaken and we were all being swept along. Well done Let Toys Be Toys

    My five year old girl can expect a mix of science stuff a musical instrument artsy stuff and some Star Wars gear!

  4. Hollie

    Just wanted to say congratulations! It’s amazing what you’ve managed to achieve in a relatively short period of time! Merry Christmas, and keep up the good work!

  5. Tom

    Wow, what an improvement! Certainly, in terms of signage, those pictures from Debenhams, The Entertainer, Fenwick and Hobbycraft look much more customer friendly, even aside from the campaign: so much easier to find what you’re looking for! Good to see how some have actually thought about what they could do better, rather than just trying to carry on with what they’ve been doing in a less explicit manner.

  6. Jemma

    Well done! What a fabulous improvement in just a year. As a mother of a boy and a girl, eager not to let gender stereotypes be pushed on either of them, I am really encouraged by this.

  7. Denise Tree

    Congratulations! None of these changes would have happened without your activism and persistence. I hope you have all the encouragement you need to keep going.

  8. Ryn Joyes

    thank you so much for this. it makes me so angry when I see separate toys for girls and boys. The other day I was in toys r us shopping for a toy kitchen and I noticed something. I found a play at house product that had a boy in the picture! I was so excited…until I took a closer look. the only “just like home” product in the entire superstore that had a boy cooking on it was… a BBQ play set! I give up sometimes!

  9. Heather Ramsden

    Great to see the progress that has been made in so many stores, not just other shelf marketing, but also in product packaging. The response from Morrisons seems disappointing so I have emailed them. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.


  10. Lyn routledge

    Great campaign! Shocking that such a campaign is still needed. Morrisons- poor show- sort it out. It’s not difficult.

  11. Hana Gill

    This is a great impact in such a short time. Fair play to everyone who has put their time and energy into this campaign.

  12. Louise Mitchell

    I have just found your campaign on Facebook. I am so glad you are making a difference. The before and after shop photos really make sense. It is all about opportunity. Each child is different, but should be given the same opportunities.

  13. fairywishes

    Keep up the good work – I struggle to believe how gender divisive much of modern marketing is, the only reason I can see is that retailers hope we buy products twice – once in pink & once in blue or different toys and don’t pass our toys on. My boy loved pink, but even more loves butterflies etc – but couldn’t they be on greens/blues not always pink backgrounds?

  14. Martin M.

    Boy’s are NOT girls and Girls are NOT boys!! that you can NOT see the difference in them and think that sex and gender is all in the head shows how out of touch with reality you are!

    • Sex is a biological category, gender is a social construct. There’s absolutely no good reason that girls’ and boys’ different anatomy should dictate the toys and activities which are on offer to them. (Unless you count weeing standing up. My daughter isn’t likely to crack that one.)

  15. Ivory M

    It’s interesting that many commenters are changing their behaviors toward their daughters but think of how we a sending a different message to our sons. we don’t let them play with the dolls or the kitchen sets or the dress-up or the pink things and frilly. we show them that those things are ONLY for girls and that those things are less than which leads the the idea that girls things are below boys things. There’s a reason that as adults what women like is only for women but what men like is for everyone. It starts in childhood I’d say infancy. we push that boy must be masculine. We fear that liking those things will make them less than but we do more damage to our girls when we teach our boys that girls things are less than therefore girls are less than. We do damage to our sons when we don’t allow them that nurturing outlet. At the end of the day if they can pretend to be a truck or a super hero why can’t they pretend to be a mom or a princess it might help us all to understand each other a little better.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Il mio giocattolo è come me | genitoricrescono.com
  2. WORKSHOP REPORT: ‘Children’s Burden or Benefit: Using young people to promote ideas of the future’ | Archive Tales
  3. “You can’t play with that, you’re a girl!” – Geographies of Children & Young People

Leave a Reply to Martin M. Cancel Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.