Recession hits 50-year-old Barbie but not Lego, other heritage brands

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London, Dec 25 (ANI): While Barbie is celebrating her 50th birthday this year, the sales of the popular doll are on a decline in the UK.

Barbie sales are thought to have slumped 35 percent as it is facing rejection in playrooms around the country.

Confidential industry data has indicated that UK sales of Barbie slumped 42 percent this year as old favourites such as Lego and newer franchise the Sylvanian Families stormed ahead, up 20 percent and 40 percent respectively.

Experts argued that the decline of the famous doll was due to the straitened economic times.

Elaine Whiteman, toys and books buyer at John Lewis, said heritage brands such as Lego, Playmobil, Meccano and Sylvanian Families had led the field this Christmas.

"If people have got less money to spend they buy something that offers value for money and can be passed down to the next generation," the Guardian quoted her as saying.

"There has been a move away from glitz and bling in the recession. When there is financial uncertainty, that doesn't marry well with the Hollywood lifestyle that Barbies and Bratz dolls represent," said Peter Brown, chief executive of Sylvanian Families manufacturer Flair Leisure.

This year to date, UK sales at Barbie owner Mattel are down 26 percent as the popularity of new ranges such as Rainforest has helped offset declining doll sales, according to market research group NPD.

NPD tracks the toy sales of retailers including Argos, Tesco and The Entertainer.

Mattel celebrated Barbie's 50th by giving the pneumatic blonde a new look, complete with thinner jaw line, almond-shaped eyes and fuller lips.

It also teamed up with designer Christian Louboutin to create a limited-edition doll, which, at 100 pounds, comes with four pairs of his famous red-soled shoes.

A spokeswoman for Mattel said that NPD figures did not cover the independent toyshops but she accepted that the doll was finding middle age tough.

"A lot of the decline is down to Woolworths which had 40pc of the fashion doll market. That's a big hole to fill but it's always a bit cyclical in this market," said the spokesman. (ANI)

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