IBISWorld Forecasts Stronger Retail Spending for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday

According to IBISWorld’s annual Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday spending forecast, retail spending should receive a boost during the upcoming holiday shopping period, thanks to a stronger U.S. economy, higher e-commerce sales, and earlier store openings on Thanksgiving.

Total spending over this year’s Black Friday weekend is forecast to rise 1.8 percent to $36.7 billion. The biggest contributor to holiday spending growth will be online sales, as Cyber Monday revenue growth reaches double digits for the fifth consecutive year.

Americans will spend an estimated $8.4 billion this year on Thanksgiving food and drinks, gifts, and decorations, reflecting a 1.7 percent increase from last year. About two-thirds of households’ Thanksgiving budgets will be spent on food and drinks for family gatherings and festivities.

The price of a typical Thanksgiving dinner is expected to increase 1.5 percent to $5.7 billion. The average household will spend $46.38 on Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey consisting of roughly 43 percent of the meal’s total cost.

Spending during Black Friday weekend is anticipated to grow 1.8 percent, to a total of $36.7 billion. This year, Black Friday is projected to generate $13.1 billion in revenue, an increase of 1.6 percent over last year’s total.

Cyber Monday sales are again anticipated to record double-digit growth of 15.0 percent, as more than half of all consumers are expected to do some holiday shopping online.

ICTI CARE Foundation Names Carmel Giblin Its President and CEO

The International Council of Toy Industries(ICTI) CARE Foundation has named Carmel Giblin as its new president and CEO. ICTI CARE promotes ethical manufacturing, fair labor treatment, and employee health and safety in the global toy and children’s product supply chain. Giblin will officially assume this new role on February 2.

For the past five years, Giblin has been the CEO of Sedex, a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to improvements in ethical and responsible business practices in global supply chains.

New Exhibition of Antique Trains and Toys Opens at New-York Historical Society

P.RHCS Gallery2This past Wednesday, the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library hosted a preview for its new exhibition, Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection. The showcase arrives right in time for the holidays, and includes a number of toys, toy trains, and scenic elements, some dating as far back as the 1850s.

At the museum’s Central Park West entrance, an abstract display shows the historical connection between the U.S. and the railroad, which opened up resources in the west to the east. Using American toys, including an electric train that will move through the entire tableau, it implies the consequences of progress and its effects on New York City.

Meanwhile, the adjacent Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History contains an expansive array of cases showing off antique toys of European and American origin. These go beyond oil-powered (not electrical) trains to the largest-known version of Gebrüder Bing’s Leviathan ocean liner; a zeppelin train of German origin; even a bridge accessory for a train set, designed by the architect Alexandre Gustave Eiffel and dating back to 1909.

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Nintendo to Power Up Malls Across the U.S. This Holiday Season

NintendoFrom November 24 to December 21, Nintendo characters Mario, Luigi, and Pikachu will visit 16 malls across the country to offer holiday shoppers hands-on play time with new games for Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo 2DS. Visitors can also check out amiibo, Nintendo’s foray into the toys-to-life category.

Interactive spaces tailored for kids will feature a Mario Kart 8 tournament played on a large, high-definition display. Visitors can also play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The scheduled lineup of Wii U games also includes Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Super Mario 3D World, Skylanders: Trap Team, and Nintendo Land.

Meanwhile, Nintendo 3DS fans will be able to check out Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Tomodachi Life, Yoshi’s New Island, and more. [Read more...]

Skylanders’ #TrapAndPlay-Sweeps Puts Fans on the Path to Prizes

SkylandersTrapTeamLogoActivision Publishing Inc. has launched #TrapAndPlaySweeps, a three-week sweepstakes for Skylanders fans. Players are instructed to tweet photos or video of themselves playing Skylanders Trap Team to the official Skylanders Twitter channel (@SkylandersGame), using #TrapAndPlaySweeps #Skylanders for the chance to win cool prizes through December 11.

Along with being available consoles, Skylanders Trap Team is compatible with third and fourth generation iPads—the iPad mini Retina, the iPad Air, and the brand new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.

Cupcake Digital Acquires App Developer Little Bit Studio

CupcakeDigitalCupcake Digital Inc. has acquired Little Bit Studio LLC, developers of the popular Bugs and Buttons series of apps for children. Little Bit Studio founders Scott Vann and Jason Luber will hold senior positions at Cupcake Digital.

Little Bit Studio will fold into Cupcake Digital’s broader structure of technology and marketing resources aimed at new products and marketing initiatives. The company will be making an initial investment in marketing and advertising to support the introduction of new products as early as the first quarter of next year.

Earlier this year, Cupcake Digital acquired another app company, iStoryTime.

COMMENTARY: Something in the Air, or, How I Do Drone On

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, have been in the news a lot recently. This past Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the authority to regulate drones, and can fine those who fly them recklessly.

DJI.InspireMeanwhile, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiled a Chinese company called SZ DJI Technology Co., which has created a new commercial drone armed with a high definition camera, among other bells and whistles. From the video footage I watched, what struck me was that the drone only weighs two pounds, and looks a lot like the R/C flyer toys that constantly make their way through The Toy Book offices.

According to the aforementioned NTSB ruling, drones are legally aircraft. So in the eyes of the federal government, they aren’t toys, despite the groundswell of drone hobbyists popping up in places like Chicago, and despite the fact that one can see a clear trail of evolution between these controversial machines and less notorious R/C toys. [Read more...]

Nominations Now Open for WIT’s 2015 Wonder Women Awards

WIT.logoWomen in Toys (WIT) is now accepting nominations for the 11th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. Winners in the eight categories will be announced at an awards dinner, scheduled to take place on February 15 during North American International Toy Fair week in New York City. For the first time, the annual awards dinner will be held at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers.

Industry stakeholders are invited to nominate a co-worker, client, associate, family member, or acquaintance for consideration in one or more of the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Rising Star, PR or Social Media, Manufacturer, Designer or Inventor, Licensing or Entertainment, Social Responsibility, and Marketing or Advertising. With the exception of the Lifetime Achievement category, which must be submitted by December 1, all nominations are due by January 15.

Nominations may be submitted online. The Award Selection Committee and WIT Board of Directors will review all nominees and select the winners for each category. All nominees must be WIT members in order to be eligible to win; however, WIT members and non-members are invited to submit nominations.

Hasbro Launches New Initiative to Spread the Joy of Play to Children with Developmental Disabilities

ToyBoxTools_logo (2)Hasbro Inc. has launched ToyBox Tools, an initiative that brings the joy of play to children with developmental disabilities. Through expertise provided by The Autism Project, ToyBox Tools provides a series of instructional videos, printed instructions, play mats, and more for several classic Hasbro brands. These tools will serve as a free, online resource for parents, caretakers, and educators to make play easier and more accessible for children who need support.

ToyBox Tools helps children experience the joy of play with three levels of tools available for those who need support: basic play, expanding play, and social play levels. Parents and caregivers can visit the ToyBox Tools site, access the tools they need, and download and print them for use at home or in the classroom. Each level caters to different aspects of play that children may need help with, like simply introducing the toy and how to use it, experiencing alternative ways to play with a toy, and encouraging turn-taking with peers.

Nearly one out of four children is said to have some type of developmental challenge, ranging from ADHD and autism spectrum disorders to learning disabilities and developmental delays.

ToyBox Tools encourages parents and caregivers to use their judgment in selecting the right product and level of play appropriate for their child. Supportive tools are included for Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh Dr. Drill ’N Fill, and Trouble.

Toys “R” Us Announces Thanksgiving Weekend Doorbusters, Special Deals for Rewards “R” Us Members

toysrusOn Thanksgiving weekend, Toys “R” Us will offer more than $8,000 in potential toy savings to holiday shoppers. Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will open at 5 p.m. on November 27, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., 4-hour doorbuster deals will include discounts on Disney Infinity Starter Packs and figures; Skylanders Trap Team Starter Packs, figures, and Traps; the V-Tech InnoTab 3S Connect; Frozen Jumbo Olaf Plush, from Just Play; and more.

Meanwhile, selected deals available on November 28 from 7 a.m. through November 29, as well as online at toysrus.com, include buy one, get one for 40 percent off on Disney Infinity and Skylanders Trap Team items, certain Disney Frozen toys, and more.

Toys “R” Us will also provide exclusive, early access to Black Friday deals on more than 100 items, both in-store and online, to Rewards “R” Us members beginning November 23. Not only can Rewards “R” Us members accumulate points on their purchases, those points can be applied to Toys “R” Us shopping into the new year.

In addition, throughout November and December, “R”Us credit cardholders are eligible to receive discounts off Toys “R” Us purchases when using their “R”Us credit card in-store on Thursdays, including Thanksgiving. Through December 20, existing cardholders can also save 10 percent every Saturday when they use their “R”Us credit card in-store.

Finally, the majority of Toys “R” Us Thanksgiving Weekend deals will be available starting on November 26 at 10 p.m. ET at toysrus.com/blackfriday.