Toy sales surge as coronavirus pandemic keeps kids home

Social distancing may be a damper on most industries — but it’s proving a boon to toy makers.

With the tots stuck at home and play dates and parks largely off-limits, parents have been buying toys in bulk in hopes of keeping the little one occupied and away from the TV while they work.

Adam Stein-Sapir of Manhattan says he “spent hundreds of dollars on toys that arrived last week, including a trampoline that I put together at 11:30 at night,” in order to keep his 5-year-old busy the week New York City shut down its schools.

Stein-Sapir, a distressed-debt expert, put the trampoline together at night so it’d be ready first thing in the morning — at his wife’s suggestion, he said. He also bought paint, markers, activity books and clay, all on Amazon.

Such buying sprees are happening across the country due to the coronavirus — and spiking sales of board games, building sets and outdoor activity centers, industry experts say.

“Toys that keep kids busy for a long time, or at least 45 minutes, while parents are working at home are what’s soaring,” Isaac Larian, chief executive of Los Angeles-based MGA Entertainment told The Post.

Sales of MGA’s Little Tikes brand of toys, for example, were up 100 percent in March compared to last year, Larian said. “We have never seen that before,” Larian said.

The brand’s play houses, kitchen sets, basketball hoops and trampolines have been selling so briskly that Target recently expanded its shelf space to 20 feet from 12 feet, according to Larian.

The coronavirus is also lifting sales at Basic Fun, maker of Lite-Brite and Lincoln Logs.

“It’s crazy to say it, but we had our best first quarter ever this year,” said Basic Fun Chief Executive Jay Foreman. “Parents are loading up on building, craft and activity toys.”

Sales of Lite-Brite toys were up 800 percent on Amazon last week, Foreman said. He’s also seeing strong demand for building toys like Lincoln Logs and K’nex.

Sales tracker NPD Group backs up the trend with a recent report showing that toy sales were up 26 percent for the week ending March 21. The toy categories with the biggest spikes were games and puzzles, up 228 percent, building sets, up 76 percent, arts and crafts, up 70 percent, and outdoor toys, up 20 percent, according to NPD’s report.

“Parents are looking for things for kids to do in the house that are not screen related,” Jim Silver, president to toy review Web site TTPM told The Post.

But bored adults may also be contributing to the surge, according to Twitter. “Going on week 3 of quarantine and now that i got this trampoline my happy levels went up by a million,” one Twitter user wrote. “Not sure if that will last but we are pushing all we can,” Foreman said.

Indeed, the Boca Raton, Fla., company recently laid off 18 people, or 10 percent of staff, as the coronavirus crimped toy production in China, adding to the industry’s woes from President Trump’s tariff war with China.

“Since we don’t know what the future is, we can’t unwind the layoffs,” Foreman said. “However, it will prevent us from doing further layoffs for the near future and help us secure our balance sheet so we can come out of this in as good a shape as possible.”

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Stocks surge has Dow flirting with bear-market exit

US unemployment claims soar as coronavirus slams economy

Last week’s jobless claims hit a record-breaking 3.28 million. FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti with more.

U.S. equity markets clambered higher Thursday as investors digested record jobless claims and waited for the House to vote on a $2 trillion relief package.

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First-time unemployment filings surged to a record 3.28 million last week, according to the Labor Department, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to temporarily close their doors and lay off employees. The previous record was 695,000, set in 1982.

The all-time high in claims came hours after the Senate voted 96-0, passing the $2 trillion relief package that would extend aid to individuals, small businesses and corporations hit hardest by the pandemic. The House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the bill on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained as many as 1,022 points, or 4.8 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite climbed as much as 4.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. A gain of 1,109.77 points or more would lift the Dow out of bear-market territory.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 22190.06 +989.51 +4.67%
SP500 S&P 500 2568.08 +92.52 +3.74%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 7615.449408 +231.15 +3.13%

Looking at stocks, hard-hit travel-related names are seeking direction as the status of the $2 trillion relief package remains in limbo.

Boeing shares continued to gain, adding to the 67 percent gain they’ve seen this week.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BA BOEING COMPANY 182.35 +23.62 +14.88%

Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron were weaker as West Texas Intermediate crude oil plunged 3 percent to $23.76 a barrel. U.S. shale names Continental Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources also fell.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
XOM EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION 38.66 +1.37 +3.67%
CVX CHEVRON CORP. 72.97 +3.70 +5.34%
CLR CONTINENTAL RESOURCES 10.43 +0.20 +1.96%

Banks gained even as buying across the Treasury complex flattened the yield curve. The yield on the 10-year note was down 5.8 basis points at 0.798 percent while the yield on the 3-month bill, which fell below zero on Wednesday, was little changed at -0.048 percent.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JPM JP MORGAN CHASE & CO. 96.48 +4.75 +5.18%
BAC BANK OF AMERICA CORP. 22.25 +1.15 +5.43%
C CITIGROUP INC. 45.17 +3.31 +7.92%
WFC WELLS FARGO & COMPANY 30.01 +1.04 +3.59%

Ford said it’s aiming to restart production at some North American plants as early as April 6. The company’s credit rating was cut to junk at S&P.

On the earnings front, Micron Technology’s results exceeded expectations and gave a stronger-than-anticipated forecast as the company said it would receive a boost as more people worked from home.

Signet Jewelers reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but suspended its dividend and did not provide financial guidance due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
F FORD MOTOR COMPANY 5.44 +0.05 +0.84%
MU MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. 43.98 +1.48 +3.48%
SIG SIGNET JEWELERS LTD 10.30 +2.97 +40.54%

In Europe, Germany’s DAX paced the decline, down 1 percent, while France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were off 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Asian markets were lower across the board with Japan’s Nikkei falling 4.5 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 0.7 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.6 percent.

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Tylenol sales surge on coronavirus concerns

Johnson & Johnson is seeing a spike in demand for its Tylenol over-the-counter pain killer and other self-care products, the company said on Friday, as the global spread of the coronavirus prompts people to stock up on essentials.

The company, which also makes Band-Aid and Listerine mouth wash, said it was shipping its stock in a “controlled manner” and that its manufacturing sites had ramped up production to ensure supply.

J&J said it did not anticipate a shortage of Tylenol, a commonly used drug for headache and fever, even though the drug “may have temporarily run out of stock at one location.”

Fears around shortages of some drugs emerged after the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc on supply chains and were amplified last week after India, the world’s main supplier of generic drugs, restricted the export of some ingredients as well as medicines including paracetamol, known as Tylenol in the US.

J&J also said it was taking all possible measures to maximize the availability of its consumer products.

The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, last year, has spread to more than 100 countries and killed more than 5,000 people worldwide, sparking a rush for such everyday items as toilet paper and packaged foods.

Pharmacy chain Walgreens Boots Alliance and supermarket chain Kroger on Thursday placed purchase limits to stabilize inventory.

Kroger placed a limit on the number of cold, flu and sanitary products per order, while Walgreens said it was limiting disinfectant wipes and cleaners, face masks, hand sanitizers, thermometers and gloves to four each per customer.

The company also said majority of its global medical device manufacturing was running at or near normal capacity, and that it does not expect the outbreak to cause any disruptions to its supply of medicines.

J&J said it had business continuity plans in place across its global supply chain network, including maintaining inventory at distribution centers away from high-risk areas and said it was monitoring demand and supply levels.

Shares of J&J were up 2.7 percent in afternoon trading, to $128.75.

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