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German merchants can’t keep up with kids’ demand for fidget spinners

Shops in Germany are currently waiting for more loads of the hit toy to arrive in the country to meet the growing demand.

German merchants can't keep up with kids' demand for fidget spinners
A child plays with a fidget spinner in Frankfurt-am-Main, Hesse. Photo: DPA
Merchants are awaiting shipments of more of the toys to arrive in Germany, both by ship and by airplane, according to Willy Fischel, chief executive of the German Association of Toy Retail.
 
“When the ships get there, there will be more of them spinning in Germany,” Fischel said on Monday.
 
The flat, palm-sized gadgets look like a cross between a propeller and a ninja’s throwing star, and are balanced on the fingers and spun around. In some cases, the colourful wheels swirl for up to several minutes at a time. 
 
YouTube videos in April of them in action in the Untied States and United Kingdom catalyzed a frenzy of demand by German kids, according to Fischel.
 
“No wonder that the product became scarce overnight,” he added. 
 
“In comparison to its precursors, such as Tamagotchi, Furby or Slime, the demand for fidget spinners is developing at the speed of light.” 
 
Most fidget spinners cost between €4 and €6, but there are also models with particular features such as small LED lights, for which you have to pay up to €30. 
 
And the craze has paid off: In Germany alone, the toys have brought in revenues of €1 million since just March, according to Fischel.
 
Manufacturers claim that they help kids to alleviate symptoms of hyperactivity, ADHD, or autism. The packaging even says the toys can help break smoking habits.
 
“I can only smile tiredly about the alleged therapeutic purposes,” says Hans-Peter Meidinger, chairman of the German Philological Association, and as of July 1st also the president of the German Teachers’ Association.
 
“It's my impression that the fidget spinners are not the main problem in schools,” he added, instead pointing to cell phones as an issue.
 
“I am quite a supporter of analogue games and I think it is good if the pupils occupy themselves with their dexterity during break times, rather than staring at their smartphones.”
 
Another 'must-have' toy

A man balances a fidget spinner on his finger. Photo: DPA

“Some teachers even recommend it so then we at least don’t speak to each other so much,” explained 15-year-old Kjell from Hambergen, near Bremen while buying a store's last camouflage-coloured spinner in Hanover.

Another schoolkid, 11-year-old Alexandra, noted that if “teachers confiscate the fidget spinners, they end up playing with them themselves”.

Her mother Kerstin Winkel had tried in vain to avoid the purchase of one, since so many must-haves were already gathering dust on the shelves of her daughter’s bedroom.

“First it was the Filly Pferde (small pony figurines), then the Loom Bands, because of which we bought extra sorting boxes,” she says. 

Barron Trump exits Air Force One holding his fidget spinner. Photo: DPA/AP

Even the son of the President of the United States, Barron Trump, has a fidget spinner. The 11-year-old was photographed on Sunday as he stepped out of Air Force One, holding a red model of the toy.

On the internet, there aren’t just videos with tricks, such as how to balance a fidget spinner on your nose, but also about care and repair tips as well as instructions for building them yourself. 

A scout group from Wedemark, near Hanover in Lower Saxony, has even chosen fidget spinner-building as a project.

“We have already ordered the ball bearings,” explained 15-year-old Helen.

The scout group wants to make hand-held spinners out of cardboard and bottle caps in groups of eight during the next group session, before selling them and donating the money.

According to the German Association of Toy Retail, fidget spinners are to be joined by fidget sticks in June and fidget cubes in August. 

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CHRISTMAS

Why are German Christmas markets opening so early this year?

Most German Christmas markets don’t begin business until the end of November. But in some cities, the winter wonderlands are opening earlier than ever. What's going on?

Why are German Christmas markets opening so early this year?
Visitors stroll through Essen's Weihnachtsmarkt, which opens on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

The downtown Duisburg Christmas market is in full swing this year, 17 full days before the first Sunday Advent. This is earlier than ever, at least in the Ruhr area of North Rhine-Westphalia. Churches across Germany are expected to criticize this growing trend, yet many cities are defending their choices. 

“The Christmas market in Duisburg will open this year on November 14th, one day ahead of the Christmas markets in Essen and Oberhausen. The opening hours of the Christmas markets are mainly due to high demand from visitors,” a city project manager in Duisburg explained.

READ ALSO: 8 of the most beautiful German Christmas markets

Four women toast each other with Glühwein at the opening of the Freiburg Christmas market. Photo: DPA

Local church representatives collaborated with the city and agreed with the dates in Duisburg, he added. Additionally, the market recognizes important holy days like Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to the city. 

“We are trying to meet the needs of our retailers, the inner-city trade and, above all, the demand of visitors,” he said.

The story is similar for Essen's early Christmas market. It will be closed for Volkstrauertag (this year on November 17th) as well as Totensonntag (November 24th).

And Essen and Duisburg are not alone with their very early Christmas markets. Even in Catholic-leaning Austria, marketplaces are getting a head start. For example, the Wiener Weihnachtstraum (Viennese Christmas Dream) opens November 15th.  

Even in Berlin, where big markets open only after Totensonntag and stay until the New Year, a similar phenomenon is playing out. The so-called Winterwelt (Winter World) at Potsdamer Platz, which is hardly distinguishable from a real Christmas market, has been open since November 2nd. 

Even more extreme, the Bayreuther Winterdorf (Bayreuth Winter Village) opened on October 17th this year. The marketplace proudly calls itself the first Christmas gathering “in the whole of Germany and certainly all of Europe.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about preparing for Christmas 

A photo of the Christmas market in Bielefeld, North Rhine Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Nevertheless, the churches see the early Christmas markets as a commodification of important Christian holidays. Ulrich Lota, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Essen, says the markets are an advertising tool to lure people into the city and away from online shopping. 

“It is important to remember, even amongst the commerce and consumption, that Christmas is not just some cultural holiday at the end of the year, but the celebration of the birth of Jesus,” she said. 

However, churches don’t want to strictly forbid something that brings many joy during the season. 

Christmas markets in Freiburg, Bochum and Dortmunder, as well as the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt in Austria and the Weinachtsdorf am Bellevue in Zurich are all open as early as November 21st, the Thursday before Totensonntag.

In most cities, however, the Christmas markets open only after Totensonntag. Cities like Kassel, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover, Bielefeld, Potsdam, Cottbus, Rostock and Lübeck hold off on the Glühwein and other classic Christmas treats until November 25th. 

In Erfurt, Weimar and Leipzig, the celebrations start on November 26th, and in Munich on Marienplatz and in Stuttgart only a day later on November 27th. The Dresden Striezelmarkt begins on Wednesday before the First Advent.

The Mainz Christmas Market opens on November 28th, and the famous Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt kicks off on November 29th, the Friday before the First Advent.

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