Late last year, Toy World editor Rachael Simpson-Jones spoke to Steve Pasierb about how recent events have affected the US toy industry.
Steve, president & CEO of the Toy Association, told Toy World: “I think it’s fair to say that the mood is one of cautious optimism. It’s been a good year so far – we were up about 7% for mid-year and we were up around 2% at the beginning of December – but it’s always the last six weeks that really tell the tale. We do know that Toy Association members have had great success selling product to retailers; the question now is what sell-through will be at the retail level. The NPD Group was saying that even if the US is down a few percentage points this year, it can be considered a success considering everything that has gone on. Popular opinion would point to the US toy market ending the year flat to slightly up.
The demise of TRU has definitely provided opportunities for other retailers to fill the gap. In fact, it seems to be happening more here than in other parts of the world. Big retailers such as Target, Walmart and Amazon have all mobilised. Target has done a phenomenal job of adding toy space to a lot of its stores and is merchandising it really well. Mid-mass retailers such as JC Penney and Kohls, plus arts & crafts stores like Michaels, are taking a much bigger stake in toys, and we’re seeing this with some of the larger grocery chains too – Wagmans has always sold toys, and Kroger has taken a big stake with the new Geoffrey’s Toy Box offering. In the US right now, you could say that there are fewer toy stores but more toy departments, because there are more retailers carrying different lines of toys. It remains to be seen who is successful with this approach, and some will naturally be more successful than others. The market shake up we’re seeing will probably continue throughout 2019.”
To read the full article in the January issue of Toy World, click here.