US retailers eye bigger slice of the toy market following Toys R Us’ demise

Published on: 4th June 2018

The bankruptcy of the toy retail giant leaves a gaping hole which a number of major players are keen to fill. 

To capture a greater share of sales this holiday season, Walmart is planning to buy up more inventory and enlarge the store space it is allocating to the toy category in the second half of the year. The omnichannel-focused move in the toy market is in line with the retailer’s broader efforts, aimed at linking together its online and offline channels.

Steve Bratspies, Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, commented: “There’s a lot of the toy volume up for grabs. We want the customer to choose Walmart, but once they do so, we’re channel agnostic after that.”

Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart US eCommerce, commented: “We want to serve shoppers however they want to shop. It’s important to have the right products but we also need to enable consumers to find what they’re looking for, regardless of whether they’re browsing [a store] or shopping [online].”

The retailer’s recent website redesign is in line with those initiatives. The site has a heavy focus on personalisation; it shows shoppers items that are popular in their area, tailors products and content to their previous on-site actions, as well as aims to drive consumers to order groceries online that can be picked up in a nearby store.

While Walmart is focusing on the online shopping experience, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s are adapting their brick & mortar approach.

Nearly a year ago, J.C. Penney installed toy shops in all of its stores. The timing was fortuitous, and it will give J.C. Penney a strong opportunity to earn incremental sales following the Toys R Us bankruptcy. J.C. Penney’s large toy sections feature a good variety of merchandise from most of the top brands, including Mattel, Hasbro, Lego and Playmobil. J.C. Penney also has Disney shops adjacent to its toy sections.

Last week, Kohl’s revealed that it too plans to capitalise on the demise of the retailer by entering the toy market in a much stronger fashion in time for the 2018 holiday shopping season. While Kohl’s does currently offer toys in its stores, ranges are often small and choices limited. On Kohl’s recent first-quarter earnings call, CEO Michelle Gass revealed that the company will significantly expand its toy selection in September. It will add products from Lego and FAO Schwarz, both of whom are anxious to increase the levels of product making their way onto retailers’ shelves.

Time will tell how much of the toy market these retailers can pick up in the wake of the Toys R Us loss, and Toy World is sure the industry will be watching closely in the months (and years) to come.


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