Kroger jockeys for holiday toy sales with Toys R Us deal
- Kroger announced that around 600 stores will offer Geoffrey’s Toy Box, an exclusive selection of toys from the company that was formerly Toys R Us, which filed for bankruptcy last year.
- Items will range in price from $19.99 to $49.99 and will include toys from brands like Imaginarium, Journey Girls, Edu Science, You & Me, Just Like Home and Animal Zone. The product mix will vary by location, Kroger said.
- "Geoffrey's Toy Box delivers a unique shopping destination within Kroger stores," Robert Clark, Kroger's senior vice president of merchandising, said in a statement. "We're excited to offer Geoffrey's Toy Box this holiday season to provide our customers with the opportunity to purchase a selection of toys once exclusive to Toys "R" Us."
Toys R Us and its 800 stores may be gone, but part of its iconic branding lives on at Kroger. And the grocer will hope that branding — namely the big, lovable giraffe mascot Geoffrey — still has some pull with shoppers making regular trips to stores throughout the holiday season.
The partnership with Geoffrey’s Toy Box, a licensing outfit Toys R Us creditors and executives pieced together after pulling out of bankruptcy auction last month, seems set up to build incremental purchases with grocery shoppers who decide to throw an item or two into their cart. But the pop-up shop could very well draw customers who grew up with the Toys R Us brand and are curious about its latest evolution. The nostalgia factor from so many former Toys R Us kids who are now parents could be powerful.
Kroger will take any advantage it can get as competing retailers have moved in on the $27 billion toy market and the 12% market share Toys R Us left up for grabs. Walmart has expanded its toy assortment by 30% in stores and by 40% online. Among the new products will be "thousands of new and exclusive items from top brands" and the top 40 toys as rated by children (up from 25 last year), including from Barbie, Fisher-Price, Lego and others, Walmart has said.
Meanwhile, Target has added hundreds of toys to its stores and added extra space in 500 locations to display large toys like cars and playhouses. Target is also running in-store demos and other activities and has added a new toy hub to its website.
And then there’s Amazon, which made $4.5 billion in U.S. toy sales during 2017, up 12% over 2016, according to One Click Retail. The e-tailer put out a paper toy catalog this year — a clear play for those who formerly shopped Toys R Us, which ran its own iconic catalog.
Retailers that aren’t known as toy destinations — Kohl’s, Party City and J.C. Penney, to name a few — are also getting on the feeding frenzy. In September, Party City began opening Toy City locations next to its Halloween seasonal shops.
From Walgreens to Alibaba, Kroger has made partnerships a key part of its business plan. The power of Toys R Us brand should be a plus, along with Kroger’s experience selling toys, particularly at its Fred Meyer stores. But as with so many other parts of Kroger’s business, all sorts of competitors will make any gains hard won.
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