Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out strong quarterly results from Hasbro.
The No. 2 toymaker behind Mattel said quarterly net profit nearly tripled while revenue jumped 8.2 percent. The maker of Littlest Pet Shop said it got the biggest boost from girls and preschoolers, with sales jumping 16 percent and 18 percent respectively.
Some of the gain came from favorable currency exchange rates, but even excluding that factor, revenue was up 5 percent. Mattel also posted stronger-than-expected quarterly results.
Sales of products for boys only rose 3 percent, but Hasbro is expecting more gains from toys tied to the releases of two movies — “Iron Man 2″ and “Toy Story 3″ — this year. Its lineup for 2012 is stronger, with “Stretch Armstrong,” “Battleship,” “The First Avenger: Captain America” and “Spider-Man 4″ movies all slated for release that year.
Also in the basket:
As retailers gear up for the all-important holiday season, two industry veterans predicted what would be hot in toy land this year.Looking at the ‘hot toys” list from Jim Silver and Christopher Byrne of toy Web site TimetoPlayMag.com, it appears that even indulgent parents still don’t want to pay too much for a toy — with the exception of the Beatles Rock Band video game.That could put pressure on toy makers and retailers who have been cutting down on inventory and focusing on making and selling affordable toys to please consumers.The push may be vital, given the 2008 holiday season turned into one of the worst in nearly 40 years as the economic crisis bore down on shoppers.The complete “hot toys” list includes:Mattel’s Barbie Fashionistas dolls, Rocky the Robot truck, and the tween Dora, Crayola’s Crayon Town, Hasbro’s Candy Land Sweet Celebration game, a Nerf blaster gun and Transformers Constructicon Devastator battle vehicle, Cepia’s Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters, Bakugan 7-in-1 Maxus Helios playing cards and characters, MEGA brands’ Battle Strikers, Techno Source’s Printies, Spin Master’s Air Hogs Switchblade flyer, Jakks Pacific Eyeclops Night Vision Goggles and Girl Gourmet Sweet Candy Jewelry Factory, Lego’s Star Wars and the Beatles Rock Band video game.(Photo/Reuters)
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.
Seven out of ten toy purchases were planned, and the top decision made by consumers was where to shop, according to a “Toy Purchase Decisions” report by market research firm NPD Group. The survey was conducted online with 2,344 participants.
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.
After pulling “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha” Beanie Baby dolls inspired by President Barack Obama’s daughters due to a complaint from First Lady Michelle Obama, toymaker Ty is selling a new plush toy inspired by the nation’s First Puppy — Bo.
Ty said its $4.99 Bo toy debuted on April 16 and sold out within hours of hitting store shelves. A portion of the sale proeeds will go to support animal shelters, the company said.
Bo toys already are on auction on eBay, where one seller is seeking $2,050 for a set of “authenticated” Sasha and Malia Beanie Baby dolls. You can find other Beanie Baby retailers here.
Since U.S. President Barack Obama has begun owning up to his mistakes, the top dogs at some U.S. companies are giving mea culpas a try.
Take LeapFrog Enterprises’ Chief Executive Jeff Katz, for example.
In an interview with Reuters, Katz admitted that the toymaker had not been fast enough or deep enough with its discounts in the fourth quarter, which included the holiday sales season. The result? LeapFrog posted a 24-percent drop in quarterly sales and a wider loss for the period.
Check out the Island of Misfit Toy Earnings.
Mattel bumped along like a train with square wheels in the fourth quarter, posting a 46 percent drop in earnings for the quarter that includes the key holiday selling season.
Sales fell 11 percent, a particularly bad sign given the idea that parents would sacrifice shopping for themselves in order to buy toys for their children during the holidays.
Granted, part of the sales decline was due to the rising dollar, which hurts the value of sales outside the United States.
But U.S. sales also fell 6 percent. And Barbie is really sagging, with a 21 percent drop in sales. Maybe her age is showing. She does hit 50 this year.
“Our business wasn’t immune from the deteriorating economic environment of 2008,” CEO Robert Eckert said in a statement.
Rival toymaker Hasbro will report next week. But at least it has that Monopoly money to cover any shortfalls.
Also in the basket:
Bharti Wal-Mart picks name for cash-and-carry stores
Tough times for luxury watches (WWD, subscription required)
Only 38.7 percent of consumers in a survey were out for some last-minute holiday shopping in the weekend before Christmas — the smallest number in six years, according to the survey conducted by America’s Research Group and UBS.
Traffic was especially weak in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, which were slammed by winter storms over the weekend. That kept scores of people at home, but those who did venture out seemed to opt for stores that had deep discounts going on. Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, attracted over two-thirds of consumers, the survey found.
Los Angeles shoppers weren’t in much of a splurging mood, except when it came to buying dolls and doll clothes at American Girl. The Grove shopping center is home to one of six American Girl stores in the United States and parents said its dolls are on every girl’s wish list. Here’s what we captured on camera: