Operation Santa Claus

Back to basics: Hong Kong’s Christmas shoppers opting for traditional board games over gadgets at Toys ‘R’ Us

Families increasingly shunning electronic goods in favour of ‘quality time’ together, retailer says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 12:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 6:30pm

Hong Kong’s Christmas shoppers are increasingly choosing traditional board games over electronic gadgets as families seek more “quality time” together, a major toy retailer has said.

Sales of games including Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo have risen significantly at Toys “R” Us stores in the city during the weeks leading up to Christmas, the company reported.

This year the retailer aims to donate HK$500,000 to Operation Santa Claus, a joint annual charity campaign organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK which supports 23 local beneficiaries. It is the third consecutive year Toys “R” Us has contributed.

Regional general manager Jo Hall said she could not yet provide official sales figures to show Hong Kong’s growing appetite for traditional games, but said the trend reflected an increasing desire among parents to interact more with their children.

Operation Santa Claus connecting the Hong Kong community with a good cause

“These games are a growing part of our token mix,” she said. “It is a lovely throwback to quality family time. It is almost as though families are leaving mobile devices and going back to traditional ideas.”

Hall said she had always been keen to restrict the toys played with at home by her two sons, who are now adults, despite her working in the toy industry.

“I was probably the mother from hell,” she said. “I did not let them play video games until they were much older. And I was careful to restrict the amount of television they watched. I would get them to play games my parents taught me, and we always had Lego around.”

Toys “R” Us head office staff will once again join their colleagues at one of the retailer’s 15 Hong Kong stores this year to provide extra gift wrapping services as part of their Operation Santa Claus drive.

Ge Fei, the company’s chief financial officer for China and Southeast Asia, said he was looking forward to volunteering his time for the cause.

It is a lovely throwback to quality family time
Jo Hall, Toys “R” Us

“It’s an honour and privilege to serve our customers during the busiest time while also contributing to such a meaningful Hong Kong community programme,” he said.

Hall said the initiative gave head office staff an “insight into how busy the stores are”.

“It also gives them a perspective on the pressures parents are under to buy the right Christmas presents for their children,” she said.

More than half of the shop’s customers pay for gift wrapping, so the cash raised forms a large proportion of its charity donation. Toys “R” Us staff will also take part in the Operation Santa Claus Sleigh Ride on December 17.

The retailer also donates toys to university groups carrying out voluntary work with local charities.

Hall said the company was “very happy”to contribute to Operation Santa Claus again.

“It gives us a way to pay back the community in Hong Kong,” she said. “We are very happy to give that.”

This Christmas the company has launched “personalisation stations” in its stores, where customers can get their chosen gift customised to their taste, even giving them the option to add Chinese characters. Coasters, door plaques and note pads are among the gifts which can be adapted in under 20 minutes. Hong Kong’s Toys “R” Us stores are the first in Asia to acquire the stations.