Toy retailers from Amazon to Target are improving their game for this year's holiday rush
7/5/18 By StarTribune Staff and Wire Reports
Amazon is taking another page from traditional retailers in its quest to capture business up for grabs after the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Inc.
The online giant is going conventional with plans to publish a holiday toy catalog, people with knowledge of the strategy told Bloomberg News. The printed guide will be mailed to millions of U.S. households and handed out at Whole Foods Market locations, the grocery chain Amazon bought last year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plan isn’t public.
For all its woes, Toys ‘R’ Us, which is closing all its U.S. stores after failing to emerge from bankruptcy, was still a force during Christmas. So the holiday season is going to be key for other retailers, including Target and Walmart, to capture market share left on the table.
“In terms of toys, Target has experienced 16 consecutive quarters of growth. Based on the momentum we’ve seen and the plans we’ve laid out for the holiday season, we fully expect that growth to continue,” Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesman, said Thursday.
Target already has a popular toy catalog, and it will put more resources into its store experiences during the holiday season, Thomas said.
The Minneapolis-based retailer has “re-imagined and enhanced” the in-store toy sections at 114 remodeled locations this year, with new presentations, signage and layouts, Thomas said. In October, 500 stores will see their toy sections expanded in time for the holiday season.
Target also is planning in-store events with vendors during the holidays, he said.
In addition, Target will start stocking new toy categories such as electric ride-ons and playhouses.
The toy section on the website also will continue to see improvements, Thomas said.
Amazon’s more aggressive approach to toys came after its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods made a big splash as it pushed into brick-and-mortar retailing. Amazon has since been integrating the chain into its larger business, including marketing its voice assistants and discount membership in stores.
A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment.
The Toys ‘R’ Us “Big Book” toy catalog was a staple at 100 pages or so, with toymakers often starting their holiday advertising to coordinate with its arrival in late October.
Toys ‘R’ Us generated $6.5 billion in U.S. sales last year. That has pushed many retailers — even ones not known for toys — to angle for a piece of the defunct chain’s business. Take Party City Holdco Inc., which is opening 50 pop-up toy shops for the holidays.
Amazon has become a toy-shopping destination in its own right. The big reason is that toys, especially during the holidays, draw shoppers. In 2007, the company copied traditional retailers and published an online hot-holiday toy list that featured playthings expected to be in demand. It has been gaining market share in the category ever since, and now it’s taking another page from legacy chains.
Includes reporting by Matt Townsend of Bloomberg and staff writer Catherine Roberts.