PRESS RELEASE Survey results: high street stores are less sexist this Christmas after Let Toys Be Toys campaign

For Immediate release

A survey by campaign group Let Toys Be Toys shows ’girls’ and ’boys’ signs are falling out of favour in toy stores.

Throughout November Let Toys Be Toys supporters across the UK and Ireland carried out a survey designed to gauge the impact of the toys and gender campaign.

According to the survey the proportion of shops using ’girls’ and ’boys’ signs has reduced by 60% compared with last Christmas when the campaign began, dropping from half of all shops a year ago to just a fifth today.

Hobbycraft topped the list of stores marketing toys without relying on gender stereotypes and was named the ’best of the high street’ by the campaign, with second and third place going to Toymaster and Fenwick.

Fenwick, Debenhams and TK Maxx were named as the most improved stores, all having recently decided to stop using ’girls’ and ’boys’ signs.

Kerry Brennan, one of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign’s founders said, “While there’s still a long way to go to address sexism in the toy industry, the changes in major retail chains like Debenhams are just brilliant to see. They’ve replaced pink and blue ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signs with new colourful signs that say ‘Vehicles’, ‘Superheroes’, ‘Soft Toys’, and ‘TV Characters’, among others. Everything is much easier to find and children are no longer being sent the message that science and adventure are only for boys, crafts and nurturing play only for girls.

“Through the grass roots efforts of a small group of dedicated volunteers, the support of over ten thousand parents and educators, and the willingness of many retailers to listen to the concerns of their customers, a year after the campaign began we can clearly see the difference that consumer voices are making on this issue.”

The worst shop in the survey was Morrisons; in general supermarkets were shown to favour stereotyping the most, while independent toy stores were the least likely to use gender stereotypes.

Of the fourteen major retailers contacted by the Let Toys Be Toys campaign in 2013 and asked to remove ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signage from shop floors or own-brand toy packaging, seven have already done so (Hobbycraft, Boots, TK Maxx, The Entertainer, Debenhams, Fenwick, Next) and five are in the process of doing so (Toys R Us, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons).

The survey results are not all good news for the campaign however. Just over 70% of stores still used some kind of gender cues, with 40% of stores using gender to sell the majority of their toys.

“We still have a way to go,” says Rebecca Brueton, Let Toys Be Toys campaigner. “We made getting rid of the signs our priority this year and the survey shows it’s working. Even so, you can still find plenty of shops promoting outdated and limiting ideas, giving children the message that science is only for boys and creativity for girls for example. This is the twenty-first century. We wouldn’t accept such outdated thinking for adults. Why do we tolerate it for our children?”

Download the full Let Toys Be Toys survey report 2013

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NOTES TO EDITORS

1.Let Toys Be Toys is a grassroots campaign group established in November 2012. The campaign believes both boys and girls benefit from a range of play experiences, and should not be restricted by marketing which tells them which toys and activities are for boys or girls. Let Toys Be Toys is run and organised wholly by volunteers.

See www.79.170.40.168/lettoysbetoys.org.uk for more information.

2.Photographs of store displays are available at www.79.170.40.168/lettoysbetoys.org.uk/media

3.For interview requests or queries, please contact us:
Email: lettoysbetoys@gmail.com

4. Further contacts

Website: www.79.170.40.168/lettoysbetoys.org.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lettoysbetoys
Twitter: @lettoysbetoys
Change.org petition: http://goo.gl/N423C

Over 10,000 people have signed the Let Toys Be Toys petition on change.org, asking retailers in the UK and Ireland to remove gender labels and organise toys by genre not gender, and the campaign has over 12,000 likes/followers on social media.

Stores contacted by Let Toys Be Toys in 2013 include:

  • Toys R Us (Christmas catalogue 2013 included boys and girls with ‘non-traditional’ toys. They will be meeting with the campaign in 2014 to discuss phasing out gendered store signage.)
  • The Entertainer (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • Fenwick (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • Debenhams (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • Boots (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • TK Maxx (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • Hobbycraft (has already removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signage from stores)
  • Tesco (agreed to remove ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs and are in the process of doing this)
  • Sainsbury (agreed to remove ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs and are in the process of doing this)
  • Marks and Spencer (has updated its toy ranges to remove reference to gender on packaging)
  • Next (has updated its toy ranges to remove reference to gender from packaging)
  • Wilkinson (has updated its shop signage and toy ranges to remove reference to gender)

See http://lettoysbetoys.org.uk/retailers/contact-retailers/ for further details.

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