Paul Stride is a popular independent nursery retailer based in York (UK) and run by Kevin and Philippa Clarkson. We wanted to find out from a retailer’s perspective how awareness about car seat safety could be improved and how retailers can feel better supported  by brands.

Here’s what Kevin had to say:

When it comes to choosing and buying a car seat, what are the most important factors for parents to consider?

“It’s easy to say ‘safety’ – however some consumers either assume all seats are safe and/or all car seats fit all vehicles – which is obviously not the case. It is improving, however, with the introduction of i-Size compatibility but, as retailers, we need to up our game and knowledge and not be afraid to ask customers questions about their specific needs.

I always apologise that it’s like ’20 questions’ but most are happy to answer so you can tailor your options to what they require. Often giving them a choice of seats that hit different criteria, budget option, safest option, best and easiest fit etc.”

Has the cost of living crisis affected parents’ buying choices and are you concerned about the danger of the second hand car seat market?

“Yes I am sure the current financial situation has been affecting the more premium end of the market with more customers not being able to upgrade/ move upmarket and opting to be swayed by budget rather than safety and features of the seat.

It is difficult, as we often get customers coming in with ‘old’ seats wanting to know if we can get a base, get new covers etc – and it doesn’t go down well if I tell them that really the seat should not be used due to age or condition! I have had more than 1 bad review as I have told customers that I cannot help with their 15+ year old infant carrier!”

Is there enough awareness in general about car seat safety – and if not, how can that be improved?

“I think that more awareness is required over the relevant safety of individual seats. Yes, R129 has raised the standard of seats overall, however many customers still believe that if its up to standard, then it is safe – without realising there is other important data to consider: ADAC scores, Plus Test etc. Even then it’s amazing how many manufacturers actually only highlight the overall score rather than focusing on the “crash test” safety element of the results.

It is our duty as retailers to educate consumers about this along with other sources. I have said this before and I will say it again: the responsible but separate factions of the Car Seat industry need to start working together to raise overall safety and give more unbiased information rather than being too inward looking.”

How can brands better support retailers to sell car seats more easily?

“Clearing messaging on the compatibility of car seat bases! Especially for differing modular style seats, opting to use the same branding for the seats but with the addition of Plus, lettering, numbering or Pro etc at the end of the name. This is frustrating and confusing for consumers who don’t know if they’re buying the correct thing, or knowing if one version is safer than the other etc. This can actually turn customers away from the brand rather than help. Of course, if they come in store we can help, but many consumers purchase online and then get angry as they have purchased the wrong model – presumably pushing up the returns rate than.”

We’ve seen a rise in rearward facing car seats; what’s the next innovation in car seats?

“It’s good to see the increase in extended rearfacing finally happening in the market, and certainly is is more affordable than ever at an entry level. I have been selling ERF seats for over 25 years so was probably one of the first adopters of these seats in the UK in a bricks and mortar setting.

R129 legislation for a minimum of 15 months rearfacing has helped with the conversations instore about rearfacing to those who would traditionally have chosen a forward facing model from an early stage. Those who know about ERF obviously don’t need to be swayed about the benefits, however they do not need to be blinkered to forward facing when new technology and innovation is introduced.

Cybex’s Anoris T is a case in point, as it uses technology that was not available when the ERF movement started. Again I would point out that consumers need to be given the correct information and let them come to an informed decision that is correct for their child, vehicle and circumstances.

We all drive vehicles with ABS, traction control, multiple airbags and other technologies without even thinking about it. All of this was looked at when first introduced with scepticism but is now mandatory in new vehicles, maybe it will be the same in car seats going forward…?”

Contact Paul Stride

Email address:
Facebook and Instagram: paulstrideyork

Share your story

Want to share your news story through Nursery Online? Drop us a line using our news form or send us an email.