Toys R Us
analysts say Amazon could grow its market share in toys from 15 percent to 20 percent this year.
Toy sellers had been long taking advantage of Toys R Us woes, but it stepped up its efforts when the chain filed Chapter 11 in the fall of 2017 and accelerated the pace when the chain announced it was liquidating its operations in March. As of early this year, Toys R Us had more than 800 U.S. stores. It closed the last 200 stores at the end of June.
But no one can replicate Toys R Us’ constant supply of hot products to its stores until Dec. 25. In fact, NPD expects 20 percent of Toys R Us sales will “simply evaporate.” It’s not issuing a holiday toy sales forecast, but others expect the figure to be unchanged compared to a year ago, when it was up about 2 percent.
With reports of the retailer’s demise, there was an outpouring of nostalgia from shoppers, and some analysts credit that empathy for helping to drive an uptick in toy sales for the first half of the year. U.S. toy sales from January through June increased 7 percent to $7.9 billion, according to NPD.
Last year, toy sales increased 1 percent to $20.7 billion from 2016.
“I am convinced that the strong toy industry growth so far this year has been at least partially supported by the empathy that people felt toward losing a store like Toys R Us,” said Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and industry adviser for toys in a statement. “I think it brought about an emotional response that resulted in parents buying more toys overall.”
Even FAO Schwarz is taking advantage of the nostalgia. The iconic toy store is set to reopen in November in Manhattan shuttering three years ago.
The store will be staffed with theatrical performers and will feature new play areas like a mini grocery store where kids can buy pretend food made of wood. In another section, there’ll be a mechanic who will help kids build radio controlled race cars. FAO Schwarz is also bringing back the oversized piano made famous in the Tom Hanks movie “Big.”
Jessica McCune, 30, was a big fan of Toys R Us and she stocked up on a number of toys when the stores were closing. Although she said she plans to shift her toy shopping to Walmart, Target and Amazon, she still misses her old go-to.
“There’s a void,” she lamented. place dedicated to toys and babies.”