Did the TRU Closing Help Toy Sales?

According to NPD, the Toys ‘R’ Us liquidation at stores, combined with an early Easter holiday, helped bolster U.S. toy sales.
License Global

May 9, 2018

Did the TRU Closing Help Toy Sales?

From March 11 to April 7 of this year, two unique circumstances: the TRU liquidation (which began March 15) and an early Easter (April 1) helped increase toy sales by 36 percent over the same period in 2017 –driving year-to-date growth for the 14 weeks combined to 13 percent.

Usually, toy sales around Easter slightly increase in the two weeks leading up to the holiday, providing an annual boost for the industry. Normalizing the year-to-date sales trend to split out Easter and of the TRU store closing results in around $180 million more being generated between those four weeks. This represents additional toy industry sales that may be attributed to the TRU liquidation.

Among U.S. consumers who purchased a toy, game, or arts/crafts product from TRU or Babies ‘R’ Us for someone in the last month, the majority (56 percent) did so to give to someone immediately, according to a poll conducted by next generation polling and data mining company CivicScience, on behalf of NPD.

Of those remaining, 12

percent made purchases to give by June; 10 percent between July and September; and 22 percent did so to give in October or later.

“The TRU bankruptcy has brought an incremental sales opportunity to the toy industry, and with at least a month to go until it wraps up, there is still more to come,” says Juli Lennett, senior vice president and toys industry advisor, The NPD Group. “Shopping behavior since the announcement indicates that consumers are not pantry loading on Christmas gifts. I estimate that, of the 22 percent planning to give in October or later, about half of that is for birthdays or other occasions and the remaining for Christmas, resulting in a net impact on future Christmas sales of less than 1 percent.”

The fastest-growing super categories at the beginning of the 10 weeks of 2018 were youth electronics, led by Fingerlings; dolls, driven by L.O.L. Surprise! and all other toys, on account of sales increases for Soft N Slo Squishies, Smooshy Mushy and Squish-Dee-Lish.

In the latter weeks leading up to Easter, plush sales moved into these ranks as traditional plush typically sells well for this holiday.

The top 20 best-sellers for the latter four weeks were Spring- and Easter-friendly, including a Bunch O Balloons 3-pack, a Glove A Bubble assortment, and a Hatchimals Mini Eggs CollEGGtibles 12 pack.

“Given the timing of both these events, I believe it’s likely that some consumers took advantage of the TRU deals by purchasing Easter gifts at the retailer,” says Lennett. “Looking ahead towards the holiday season, from what the data shows and what consumers are saying so far, fourth quarter sales should be only slightly impacted by the liquidation.”

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