Great toy sales offers but poor availability

Do you love a good offer?  Of course, everyone does, because however much money you have, you always want to get a better deal.

And nowadays with the internet it means there’re more deals around and more people can find out about them quicker.  It also means retailers have to respond early to promotions, which means all the better for buyers (less so for manufacturers and obviously high street stores).

But my real bugbear is retailers who shout about their offers, and then when you get onto the website, there’re numerous out of stocks…generally on the items I want.  It seems that this annoys lots of people, and recently several retailers have been making the headlines including Marks and Spencer.  Their Autumn Winter collection had only just been launched and advertised, but people were reporting having found a lot of the items weren’t available online (where you’d hope there was a broader selection available than in the shops).

Fashion websites are a nightmare for out of stocks, in particular at sales times.  Unfortunately I’m a classic mid-range size, plus usually want a long trouser which I assume shops stock less of anyway (don’t know why as some regular legs are extremely half-mast and I’m only average 5ft 5 height so a regular shouldn’t be too short on me!); that means that I often find there’s nothing left in my size at end of season sales.  But you should expect for mid season offers and new products, that retailers would have enough available to supply the demand.  Obviously retailers nowadays no longer want to be sat on lots of stock at the end of the season, but they should have a good enough idea of what demand might be like for the whole season if they can’t cater enough for demand at the start of it.

Some of the retailers I like that I never find items in the right size are Boden (there must be lots of kids of N’s age whose parents do get hold of the Boden sales offers early, as I never find things in the sale in his size or the next size up!), and White Stuff.  With the latter, I should just never bother as it’s so rare for me to find anything that will suit my shape and be available in their sales.  Last sale I did manage to get on earlier and found a couple of items to order, plus a visit to a different town with their shop coincided with the sale too.

With toy sales, I find it’s even worse.

I don’t know whether it’s consumers now not wanting to buy anything full price, or if it’s just that people are used to bargains so think full priced toys are overpriced (I know I was astounded by the price of the big Lego and Playmobil sets…astounds me that anyone would spend £100 on a set, however amazing it is.  That’s a lot of playing required to get the value out of it.  I know I always want to find a bargain as N’s only around at weekends and evenings/mornings to actually play with the toys he has.

Recently though, with the start of the Christmas run up, there’s been numerous sales at toy retailers.  I can’t say I’ve had a great experience – although maybe it’s because I’m looking for classic toys which are always popular and therefore every parent wants to buy them.  I suppose as well, having a child in the new baby boom years hasn’t helped as I’m competing with more than usual parents of similar age children.

So who’s annoyed me recently?

Smyths Toys

We have none of these shops near us, I’ve never lived anywhere which has one of these shops, so I would imagine a lot of other people use their online service too.  Last week they had a 20% off weekend.  20%, doesn’t seem like a lot really, but their website crashed, with people complaining all over social media about it.  I managed to finally access the website, to find that either they didn’t really hold a decent range of the brands I was after, or there was nothing left in stock.  So basically a waste of time.

The Entertainer

We’re getting one of these stores coming to our town at the end of November.  I’d say that’s a bit late for Christmas planning, but it’s a shame as the only real toyshop in town is independent and has been there for years.  It’ll be good to fill one of the closed units in the shopping centre, but I’d have to hope they’ve got a better offer in store than online.  I wasn’t that impressed when I received their email newsletter, and went to the website to see what was available.


Everyone has an Argos nearby, and it’s pretty handy for a lot of items.  Ok, so the prices can be higher than other places (online), but they do some great day to day clearance offers if you hit the store at the right time.  But they’ve currently got on a 3 for 2 on toys event, along with quite a few toys on price cuts as well.  I’ve got a lot of Nectar points to spend, so thought I could try and pick up some toys for the nephews, niece and N for Christmas and birthdays.

Six possible items I was after and not one was currently in stock in our Argos Extra.  One was available to order to reserve for pick up next week.  2 might be available online.  Others weren’t available at all, but ‘try’ other stores…except not in the 4 other towns that are within 25 miles of me.  So even if I did order/reserve anything, I’d not be able to use the 3 for 2 offer anyway, or the Nectar points as they can only be used in store.

I find this all the time with Argos.  There must be shoppers who camp out there/on their website, literally waiting for a sale to come by because whenever I look, there’s never anything available that I want.  I think they need to take a leaf out of some clothes retailers’ books, where you can order to the store/home from another store which has the item in stock.

Maybe I just need to change my ideas of what I want N to be playing with (although this will likely be the last year I’ll have the choice, as I expect come next year, he’ll have an idea himself!) and choose toys that have bad reviews.  Or buy full priced items.  Or just give him a few cardboard boxes

Have you managed to get some good bargains in the recent sales?  What are your tactics?

Love it? Share it


  1. This is why I don’t go shopping 😛
    I often think full prices are over inflated and sale shopping is dull because the chances of getting what you want are low.

    However, I’ve used The Entertainer shop a few times recently because it is convenient and I’ve left with suitable presents, plus the one time I asked for an explanation of a toy they were very helpful.

    1. We’re getting The Entertainer in town at the end of November, so it’ll be an alternative if I can’t get what I need in the independent shop. Might be nice not to have to then go out of town to Argos, Tesco or Sainsbury’s instead.

  2. Being tall (6′ tall) I don’t expect there to be anything in the sale for me so it’s a nice surprise if they do. I think now my children are older we’ve become resigned to the fact that if it’s on offer it won’t be available and try and source our presents from other places

  3. Annoys the hell out of me too. Especially the clothing which is always sold out in my size. I usually go on websites and find that anything I like is available in a size 8 or a size 20 – but nothing in between. Pffft!

  4. I had the same problems trying to start my christmas shopping earlier in the week….Most of it was out of stock….Back soon! Grrr!!

Comments are closed.