When Toys R Us closed more than 700 locations earlier this year, it left a gaping hole in the holiday toy market.
But like nature, retail abhors a vacuum. That’s why a crush of stores — some old standbys though others are completely out of left field — have stepped in to fill the gap this Christmas.
Here’s what you can expect from each of them.
Here are your best toy-shopping options for Christmas 2018
Note: This list is presented in alphabetical order.
The online retail giant has always been in a heated four-way battle with Target, Toys R Us and Walmart for Christmas toy sales — only this year the field has shrunk by one!
Perhaps most importantly, Amazon appears to be winning the all-important search results battle.
Business intelligence firm Gartner reports the Seattle-based company is capturing 95% of top toy searches and 88% of top baby item searches, replacing the stranglehold Toys R Us used to have on customers who were searching online for holiday gifts for children.
But at the same time that it’s dominating in digital, Amazon is also looking to go analog in a very old-school way.
Amazon is also reportedly going to pick up the mantle of the fallen Toys R Us by distributing printed toy catalogs at Whole Foods locations. Though this was widely reported, we’ve yet to see the catalog materialize. But we’ll let you know when we do!
The warehouse club chain is believed to have enjoyed the biggest year-over-year surge of any retailer when it comes to picking up new toy shoppers after Toys R Us closed, according to Gordon Haskett Research Advisors.
In July, Costco saw an 18% uptick in former Toys R Us shoppers visiting the “store with a concrete floor” — even more comparable traffic than Walmart saw!
Anecdotally, some members of Team Clark who recently visited a Costco in the Atlanta area noted the increased presence of toys in the aisles.
J.C. Penney’s plan to pick up more market share in the wake of the Toys R Us bankruptcy can be summed up in one iconic line from the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
That’s right, “Jacques Penne” — as it’s known by fans — is going big on baby this year!
When Toys R Us went down, so too did its sister store Babies R Us. That prompted J.C. Penney to launch 500 baby shops in August 2018.
So you’ll find plenty of cribs, high chairs, strollers, car seats, bouncer seats, activity centers and an expanded assortment of Carter’s, Gerber and Okie Dokie clothing in the store.
Of course, the retailer will have lots of traditional toys on hand for older kids, too!
Kohl’s doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a great destination for toys. And according to chatter in investment circles, Kohl’s is among those retailers expected to benefit the least from the death of Toys R Us.
But this year, the retailer is adding LEGO and FAO Schwarz to its roster in time for the holidays, which should work in its favor.
Additionally, Kohl’s has another dark-horse advantage for Christmas 2018: Thanks to an existing partnership with Amazon, you’ll be able to return any toys from Amazon that your kids don’t want at your local Kohl’s store.
Bringing in that extra foot traffic is likely to land the store some serious post-holiday sales after Christmas and through the new year, according to Forbes.
Capitalizing on the death of Toys R Us, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet promises this year will see “by far our largest and best toy selection EVER.”
That’s because the retailer, which specializes in closeouts, bought “almost $200 million (at retail) of toys from suppliers who had excess inventory and is selling them at up to 75% off the fancy stores’ price.”
When you think of Party City, you don’t think of toys.
But the festive retailer is combating that perception by taking what’s probably the most unique approach to filling in the Toys R Us vacuum: It’s opening some 50 temporary Toy City stores alongside its Halloween City pop-up stores.
In the absence of Toys R Us, the Red Retailer is dedicating some 250,000 square feet to toys this season across 500 stores. Shoppers will get to pick from more than 2,500 new and exclusive toys.
In addition, Target has a new offer of free two-day shipping — no minimums and no membership required. And by the end of October, you’ll be able to order toys via the Target app and have your purchase brought out to your car by an associate within an hour.
Further details are available here.
Walmart is upping its toy inventory by 30% in stores and by 40% online this holiday season.
And beginning in November, Walmart will expand free two-day shipping to millions of items — with no membership required.
It will also allow in-store returns of merchandise bought on Walmart.com from third-party sellers.