HoliDAY of Play 2015

Target to Use Interactive Game to Transform Stores into Winter Wonderlands

Target LogoTarget has partnered with Google on its latest Art, Copy & Code project, Bullseye’s Playground, an interactive, in-store mobile experience. Bullseye’s Playground is a mobile game experience that features Target’s bull terrior mascot Bullseye and other characters. In addition, guests can use Google’s new Project Tango Development Tablet in select stores.

Beginning December 2, Target guests can use their mobile devices to access Bullseye’s Playground both in and out of stores. They can play six interactive games, including sledding, ice fishing, and snowball fights. In-store signage will prompt guests to play and discover special codes throughout the store to unlock characters and new game levels. For every game played on Bullseye’s Platform, Target will donate $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital up to $1 million.

In select Target stores, guests can be some of the first to test out Google’s Project Tango Development Tablets. The tablet screen can transform the store into a winter wonderland that changes as the guests move around the store. They can also interact with characters like Bullseye and Zoomer Dino as they travel around the location, while they discover virtual activities like taking part in a snowball fight or playing a xylophone made of icicles. [Read more...]

CafePress Launches Holiday Giving Campaign for Toys for Tots


A collaborative effort launched today between CafePress, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation, Hasbro, and My Life Games LLC will help provide children in need with toys at the holidays.

Through this first-year campaign, CafePress will provide consumers with three different ways to support Toys for Tots, including $1 donated for every Facebook “Share” given to the video entitled, “Toys for Tots: Every Child Deserves a Little Christmas.” Other means include $1 donated from the final purchase price of all customizable Monopoly and Scrabble games sold on; and $2 donated from the sale of two special edition T-shirts, each priced at $7.

“We are honored to support Toys for Tots this holiday season,” said Fred Durham, CEO and co-founder of CafePress. “To be able to support their noble efforts by donating a portion of proceeds of games known for bringing families together is ideal.”

Alex Brands Joins Toys for Tots as Official Sponsor

AlexBrandsAs of today, Alex Brands has become an official sponsor of Toys for Tots. The company is joining the charitable program to help benefit children and families during the current holiday season.

A 67-year-old national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots collects toys, books, and other gifts, distributing them to economically disadvantaged children. Last year, the Marine Corps provided for nearly 7 million children in more than 760 communities nationwide.

“We are delighted to have Alex Brands join us as a national corporate sponsor,” says retired Marine Major Bill Grein, vice president of marketing and development for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “The addition of some of the most recognizable and iconic toy brands to our efforts is going to help make this holiday season even brighter for the children we serve.”

Alex Brands’ family of brands includes Alex Toys, Poof, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, Ideal, and more.

Total Spending, Number of Shoppers Down During Black Friday Weekend

As reported by the National Retail Federation (NRF), roughly 87 million Americans visited stores on Black Friday. However, total spending for the long Thanksgiving weekend is projected to be down more than 10 percent from last year’s estimate.

According to an NRF survey released on Sunday, total spending for the four-day weekend is expected to reach $50.9 billion, a decrease of 11.3 percent from last year’s estimate of $57.4 billion. NRF data also estimates that 133.7 million shoppers will have visited stores this weekend, down 5 percent year-over-year and below the expected number of 140.1 million. The survey also estimates flat growth in online sales.

This data follows strong starts reported by some retailers for the Black Friday weekend. Both Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. began offering special Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, beginning at 6 p.m. While neither Wal-Mart nor Target has reported specific sales figures, both claimed a high number of customers that shopped at stores as well as online. [Read more...]

New York Attorney General Asks Toy Retailers to Be Extra Vigilant About Safety

The New York attorney general has reminded retailers that they are obligated under state and federal law not to sell toxic toys.

As reported by the Associated Press, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to 190 retailers. Each letter stated that New York law prohibits the sale, import, and manufacture of children’s products that pose an unreasonable risk of injury, with penalties up to $1,000 per violation.

While federal law requires manufacturers and importers to certify that products comply with children’s product safety rules enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Schneiderman advises retailers to check the CPSC website for product recalls.

He also cites a recent report by Clean & Healthy New York Inc. and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Inc. that found some children’s items bought in Albany County contained arsenic, mercury, and lead.

Wal-Mart Doubles Its Cyber Monday Deals

Walmart.com_Cyber_Monday_Home_PageWal-Mart plans to have its biggest Cyber Week to date at, offering 500 online deals this year, double the number of cyber deals from last year. Cyber Week at Wal-Mart includes savings on toys and tablets, along with free shipping.

The retailer will kick off Cyber Week on November 29, and every day through December 5, will offer deals on 500 items including the Fisher Price Little People Musical Preschool; the PlayStation 4 Lego Batman and Little Big Planet Console Bundle, with choice of extra game and controller; the 2014 Holiday Barbie Doll; the MD Sports 2-Player Basketball Game; and more.

Wal-Mart will also be offering free shipping to customers’ homes on orders totaling $50 or more, as well as free pickup at its stores. In addition, Wal-Mart will offer free same-day pickup at a local store for more than 70,000 items.

Wal-Mart to Offer More Disney Frozen Items than Any Other Retailer

During the coming holiday season, Wal-Mart will offer more than 700 licensed Disney Frozen items, which is more than any other retailer. The toy items include Jakks Pacific’s Frozen Snow Glow Elsa, Blip’s Frozen Dancing Olaf, Disney‘s Frozen Sing-Along DVD, and more.

COMMENTARY: This Holiday Season, Let’s Not Forget the Value of Games

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 3.21.15 PMJust this weekend, I attended a party at a friend’s house—a “FriendsGiving” gathering hosted by her and her husband. After a delicious pre-holiday feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and veggies, we decided to let the food settle while playing a game of celebrity Charades. Our game was spontaneous, so we worked with what was at hand: post-it notes, a pen, and a salad bowl. We tore up the post-its, wrote the names of celebrities, and tossed them into the bowl before breaking into teams and doing our best Michael Jackson, George Washington, and Vanna White impressions.

This reminded me that games aren’t just for kids. Somewhere along the line, the concept of “fun and games” became synonomous with youth, a lack of responsibility, and blissful ignorance. But one could make the argument that grown-ups need games even more than kids sometimes, to help us unwind, loosen up, and chill out at the end of a busy day or a hectic work week. [Read more...]

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.

ASTRA Sees Growth Continuing for Independent Retailers this Holiday Season

AstraLogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is optimistic about growth in customer traffic and sales for independent businesses during the upcoming holiday season—with hopes of matching or exceeding the 5.3 percent growth posted last year.

According to a consumer survey conducted during the second quarter of this year, six out of ten customers say they go out of their way to shop at small, locally-owned businesses. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that over 90 percent of fourth quarter shopping will take place in brick-and-mortar stores.

Advocates for Independent Business (AIB), a coalition of trade associations and other organizations concerned with the success of locally-owned, independent businesses, documents that locally-owned retailers have a far greater impact on their communities than national brands. For every $10 million in customer spending at, for example, creates 14 jobs. Meanwhile, the same amount spent at local brick-and-mortar stores creates 57 jobs, or 75 percent more. ASTRA is a founding member of AIB.

An infographic for retailers to use in their stores and around their communities to reinforce the value added aspects of shopping locally can be downloaded and printed here.