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Gender signage down 60% in toy shops in 2013

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

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Gender signage down 60% in toy shops in 2013

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 results of 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 of which have 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.”

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).

However the survey found that 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,” said 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?”

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