Toy retail giant Toys “R” Us today committed to being more inclusive it its marketing of toys to girls and boys. This announcement follows a meeting on Friday between Toys “R” Us UK board members and Let Toys Be Toys, the consumer campaign group representing thousands of shoppers who are concerned with the influence on children of sexist stereotypes that are still widely used in the toy industry.
The move by Toys “R” Us marks a major change in the UK’s toy sales landscape. Managing Director Roger McLaughlan said, “We very much enjoyed meeting Let Toys Be Toys. We will work with the Let Toys Be Toys team to ensure we develop the best plan for our customers”.
The retailer today confirmed that they would draw up a set of principles for in-store signage meaning that, in the long-term, explicit references to gender will be removed and images will show boys and girls enjoying the same toys. They promised to start by looking at the way toys are represented in their upcoming Christmas catalogue.
This is not the first time Toys “R” Us has been praised for adopting an inclusive approach. Following complaints from school children in Sweden, the Swedish Toys “R” Us franchisee, Top Toy catalogue, set out to move away from sexist stereotypes, and contained photographs of boys and girls in non-traditional roles.
The changes promised by Toys “R” Us follow in the footsteps of similar commitments from several other major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots, The Entertainer and TK Maxx. All have agreed to banish ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ signs from their aisles following intervention by Let Toys Be Toys.
Megan Perryman, Let Toys Be Toys campaigner, said: “We’re delighted to be working so closely with a major toy retailer and believe that there is much common ground here. Even in 2013, boys and girls are still growing up being told that certain toys are ‘for’ them, while others are not. This is not only confusing but extremely limiting, as it strongly shapes their ideas about who they are and who they can go on to become. We look forward to seeing Toys “R” Us lead the way to a more inclusive future for boys and girls.”
Notes to editors
1. Let Toys Be Toys is a grass-roots consumer campaign, run and organised by parents. It calls on retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys. See www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk
Over 7,500 people have now 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 theme and function, and the campaign has nearly 10,000 likes/followers on social media.
The campaign has already scored successes, including convincing The Entertainer, Boots and Tesco to remove ‘Boys toys’ and ‘Girls toys’ signs from their stores. Other stores which have responded to pressure from the group and agreed to make changes are TK Maxx, Sainsburys, Hobbycraft and Next.
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4. Further contact details & web presence
Change.org petition: http://goo.gl/N423C