Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out the latest news on the fight for a piece of toy market.
U.S. retailer Sears plans to launch 85 toy shops in select markets next month as it angles for a bigger bite of the holiday sales pie, a senior executive told Reuters. Specialty retailer Toys R Us previously announced plans to open about 600 temporary stores and 10 FAO Schwarz “pop-up” stores this year.
The move from the operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain comes as competition heats up in the toy market ahead of the crucial selling season.
“We have a very aggressive plan for growing our toy business,” Julia Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer for Sears’ toy business said in an interview ahead of an event marking the launch of Kmart’s top toy picks for the holidays.
The decision came after many customers showed interest to shop for toys in convenient locations such as malls, during a pilot program in 20 department stores last year.
Check out the hot new toys list from Toys R Us for the holiday shopping season.
The “2010 holiday hot toy list” shows the industry’s creativity in finding new ways to capture children’s imaginations. That includes looking for inspiration to landfills or the annoying coin-operated vending machines in groceries that all parents detest.
Toys R Us comes out with the annual list, which this year features 36 new items — some exclusive — to give parents ideas for what to buy their little ones as they head into the holidays.
“We don’t want to miss anything,” said Lisa Harnisch, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Toys R Us.
The list includes a Fisher-Price made landfill that allows fans of the Disney-Pixar movie “Toy Story 3” to relive the scary climax scene where the hero toys head toward incineration. It’s not every day that your kid will thank you for giving them a garbage dump. At least there’s no batteries required.
Then there’s “Squinkies,” squishy pencil-topping toys that allow kids to “take home the excitement of a coin-operated vending machine.” Evoking imagery of the gantlet every parent dreads because those machines are filled with useless, cheap, money-wasting junk may not be the way to go. Again, no batteries required.
Longtime favorite Playmobil offers a small schoolhouse “featuring everything needed for a full curriculum”, including a skeleton for the science class. This could do well as kids love to play with structures and also are fascinated by the human body. And, you guessed it, no batteries required!
Finally, there’s the Calico Critters Luxury Townhouse. These toys live better than I do. The house boasts a “balcony and an outdoor patio” and includes chandelier fixtures. Unfortunately, there is a price to be paid for such high living and that’s the electric bill as, yes, this toy requires two AA batteries.
The best gift for little ones may be IOUs for stock in Toys R Us, which is counting on the new products to boost sales as it looks to go public. A successful IPO would surely pay for plenty of batteries.
Also in the basket:
(Photo courtesy of Toys R Us)
Check out the latest attempt by a U.S. retailer to win shoppers ahead of the key holiday shopping season.
Toys R Us is planning to open about 600 pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers around the United States this Christmas season. That is more than six times what the world’s largest dedicated toy retailer opened last year. Many of those nearly 90 Toys R Us Express locations have remained open through 2010.
Check out Toys R Us’ IPO filing.
After months of speculation, Toys R Us finally filed its application to go public again in an offering of as much as $800 million, which makes it one of the largest deals in the U.S. IPO pipeline.
Toys R Us was publicly traded until 2005 before being bought by private equity firms Bain Capital, KKR and real estate company Vornado. The chain, which also owns the famed FAO Schwartz in Manhattan, had sales of $13.6 billion last year, and appears to be riding a wave of IPOs aimed at helping private equity firms cashing out on their investments.
How important is it for top executives to know what their customers think of the businesses that they run? Most agree that it helps, but on Black Friday, chief executives of two of the country’s most popular venues for frenzied, over-caffeinated shoppers said they don’t shop at their stores at that time of year.
We could think of plenty of good reasons not to hit the chaos scenes known as big-box retailers on Black Friday. For one thing, it’s crowded and you have to wait in line all day while you’re holding boxes of stuff. Add a couple of cranky toddlers, and you could envision hundreds of reasons to stay home.
EA Sports, a unit of Electronic Arts, is introducing its first line of products beyond the company’s popular video games, offering sports toys and equipment to appeal to the young sports lovers in the house.
Check out Toys R Us hiring 35,000 for the holiday season.
The toy store giant said it would keep its U.S. store hiring plans at the same level as the last two years, even though industry watchers expect a relatively bleak winter.
Toys R Us, the New Jersey-based chain with nearly 70,000 permanent associates around the globe, is preparing for what it expects will be “another busy holiday shopping season.” Besides hiring about 35,000 for the season, current Toys R Us employees will also be given the chance to work extra hours, the company said.
Specialty toy retailer Toys “R” Us issued its take on what this holiday season’s hot toys will be, as it prepares to attract toy shoppers one year after what was the worst holiday sales season in nearly 40 years.
This year, retailers and toy makers alike have focused keenly on prices, understanding that consumers may not be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars for toys since caution rules their spending.
Toys “R” Us, the U.S.-based specialty toy retailer, announced a national plan that lets consumers trade in their used cribs, car seats and other baby-related items in exchange for a 20-percent discount to buy a new product in the same categories and by specific manufacturers.
The “Great Trade-In,” as the program is called, was put together to underline the fact that certain baby items are not ideal for being handed down or resold because of safety concerns.
Santa’s not getting any rest this year.
After U.S. retailers posted the longest running decline in same-store sales in nearly a decade, Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us announced Christmas-themed sales for the month of July. While actual sale dates and locations vary among the three chains, the event has drawn a lot of attention from news media, which had the once-in-a-year joy of headlining a story with “Christmas in July.”
Not to be outdone, Disney has sent a train to 36 states around the country to promote its new animated film “A Christmas Carol,” slated for release this November. Yes, November.