Coronavirus Means Everyone Wants Jigsaw Puzzles. Good Luck Buying One. Demand has taken off, but the world’s largest maker finds itself with fewer ways to get puzzles to puzzlers By Michael M. Phillips

As if things weren’t bad enough, now there’s a shortage of jigsaw puzzles just when we need them most.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to hunker down in their homes and find ways to entertain themselves. A lot of them are thinking the same thought: jigsaw puzzle.

Of the top 10 items that shoppers searched for onAmazon.com last Tuesday, nine were antivirus cleaning supplies or personal-hygiene products (read: toilet paper). No. 7 was “puzzles for adults.”

More people were hunting desperately for jigsaw puzzles that day than Clorox wipes.

That should be good news for Filip Francke, chief executive of Ravensburger North America. Its parent, privately held German puzzle giant Ravensburger AG, is the world’s largest purveyor of jigsaw puzzles and does $600 million in business a year in puzzles, toys and other products.

Jigsaws were on an upswing even before the coronavirus. Still, they usually reside in the afterthought zone on Amazon, ranked between 2,000 and 3,000 among search terms, according to a source familiar with the data. Even as recently as March 3, adult puzzles were just the 1,435th most-searched item, the source said.

Now, as people run through their Netflix backlog and seek an activity to share with the few people they dare get within 6 feet of, jigsaw-puzzle demand has taken off.

Ravensburger’s sales in North America over the past two weeks are up 370% year-over-year, the company says. On a single day, March 26, sales were 10 times what they were a year earlier. Ravensburger is seeing Christmas numbers at Easter.

Yet 137-year-old Ravensburger finds itself with fewer ways to get puzzles to puzzlers. “The demand is pretty infinite right now,” says Mr. Francke. “The challenge is to find ways to get it to consumers.”

Customers with time on their hands are looking for fatter books and more-complicated puzzles, Mr. Daunt says. “This helps them spend time more productively and hopefully with more entertainment than Netflix and Apple TV can provide,” he says.

Many small toy stores around the country have shut their doors due to health concerns or government edicts.

Sullivan’s Toys & Art Supplies, in Washington, D.C., doesn’t allow customers inside, but will hand off puzzles curbside. About 30 times a day, a masked-and-gloved Sullivan’s agent goes on a delivery run around the neighborhood to drop off toys at customers’ doors. Half of those deliveries include jigsaw puzzles, when they’re available.

Art manager Anya Navidi-Kasmai holds the sole remaining Ravensburger adult puzzle at Sullivan's Toys & Art Supplies in Washington, D.C.

 Art manager Anya Navidi-Kasmai holds the sole remaining Ravensburger adult puzzle at Sullivan's Toys & Art Supplies in Washington, D.C.PHOTO: NATALIA ALCAZAR

“It’s the classic,” says Natalia Alcazar, the store’s general manager. “You can’t really beat a puzzle on any sort of day.”

This weekend, though, Sullivan’s stock ran down to its last adult puzzle, an intimidating, 631-piece monochrome, gold rectangle from Ravensburger’s Krypt series. The store sold out of the all-silver and all-black versions earlier in the week.

For More Click article at Wall Street Journal 


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