China Toy Fair


NRF Offers Optimistic Forecast for Holiday Sales and Hires

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales (excluding auto, gas, and restaurant sales) to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion in November and December, higher than 2013’s 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent.

Holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent over the past 10 years, including 2014’s estimates, and are expected to represent approximately 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion.

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes direct-to-consumer, kiosk, and online sales.

Additionally, NRF expects between 725,000 and 800,000 new seasonal employers for the holiday shopping season, potentially more than retailers hired in 2013.

NRF’s shop.org division expects online sales to grow 8 to 11 percent more than last holiday season.

Click here for more information about the studies.

Toys “R” Us to Hire 45,000 for Holiday Shopping Season

toysrusToys “R” Us will hire 45,000 seasonal employees at its stores and distribution centers nationwide, more than doubling the company’s workforce as it prepares for the busy holiday shopping months ahead. These seasonal positions will include sales associates, stock crew and omnichannel fulfillment teams, as well as distribution center workers and department managers.

Interviewing for holiday positions at Toys “R” Us stores begins at the end of this month, and new hires start working in early October. Staffing continues to build throughout the holiday season right up to Christmas. Seasonal store employees typically work 16 to 20 hours per week with flexible schedules offered during the week, weeknights, or weekends. Employment opportunities are also available at the company’s distribution centers nationwide, which began hiring in July and will continue through November.

Job seekers can visit www.toysrusinc.com/careers/holiday to apply and learn more about working at Toys “R” Us during the holiday season.

GameStop to Exit Spanish Market, Sell Locations to GAME

GamestopGameStop intends to exit the Spanish market via the sale of retail locations to specialist video game retailer Game Digital Plc (GAME), in combination with closures of its remaining locations. Under the terms of this proposed agreement, GameStop will transfer ownership of a portfolio of GameStop stores located in Spain, with the remaining retail sites winding down this year.

GAME already has a consumer presence in the country, in addition to its retail operations in the UK. GameStop’s strategic decision to exit the Spanish market was made after a careful review of the market’s financial performance and future opportunities, which indicated that the company would be better served by curtailing its operations in Spain, and focusing its resources in other countries where GameStop has significant market share. GameStop expects to maintain and expand its presence in the other European countries in which it currently operates.

During the coming months, GameStop will work closely with GAME to ensure continued support for GameStop’s customers in Spain. The proposed deal will require Spanish Competition Authority approval, which is expected in October. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Toys “R” Us and Claire’s Enter into Global Partnership

Feature Shops, FAO and Times Square, Hot ToysToys “R” Us and Claire’s have entered into a strategic global partnership to bring trendy, fashion-forward products to Toys “R” Us customers in select stores around the world. Following a successful pilot program in Europe, Claire’s-branded shops within Toys “R” Us stores will expand to nearly 100 locations across the continent, including stores in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Spain. They will also be set in 12 Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. by the end of this year.

Shoppers will be able to choose from Claire’s jewelry, headbands, hair and fashion accessories, jewelry holders, legwear, seasonal items, and more. The shops will vary in size by location.

Two Claire’s locations in the U.S. will officially debut this week in the company’s flagship Toys “R” Us Times Square and FAO Schwarz stores in New York City. The additional 10 locations in the U.S. are expected to be open by the end of October and will be located in Murrieta, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jensen Beach, Fla.; Florence, Ky.; Waldorf, Md.; Henderson, Nev.; Toledo, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Houston, Texas.

Bazooka Candy Brands and Hasbro Cross-Promoting for Digital and Retail

Hasbro logoHasbro and Bazooka Candy Brands are joining forces for a cross-promotion launching this month. Favorite childhood games and tasty, classic candies such as Juicy Drop, Baby Bottle Pop, and Jumbo Push Pop will be co-mingling.

The promotion will feature a campaign with retail, digital, and social elements:

Retail: The strong in-store presence will include shippers with $3 off any one Hasbro game coupons. Family prize opportunities sponsored by Topps will include chances to win a Carnival cruise or one of 100 Hasbro game and Bazooka Candy Brand prize packs.

Digital: Bazooka Candy Brands’ site, candymania.com, will be re-branded and skinned to feature Hasbro game themes. Along with the redesign, the site will host an interactive online promotion sponsored by Topps, featuring an instant win game where fans can play for a chance to win game and candy prize packs, which include Hasbro games such as Monopoly and Twister and Bazooka candy.

Social: There will be cross promotions on both Bazooka Candy Brands’ and Hasbro’s social media platforms.

Brilliant Sky Toys & Books Acquires Retailer Bean Head Toys

BrilliantSkyInteriorBean Head Toys has turned over its keys to regional toy store chain Brilliant Sky Toys & Books. Seven years ago, original proprietor Chris Lowe opened Bean Head Toys in Sandy Springs, Ga., with a second store popping up several years later, in the Buckhead district of Atlanta.

The stores hosted weekly community events, such as story times, art classes, and Elf Magic gatherings during the Christmas season. [Read more...]

Dedicated Rilakkuma Shop to Launch at FAO Schwarz in October

RilakkumaFAO Schwarz will convert three towers in the Grand Hall of its New York flagship store into a Rilakkuma destination for the month of October. Over the past decade, the Rilakkuma brand and its characters have become a key part of Japanese culture and the essence of the Kawaii lifestyle, which emphasizes cuteness and adorableness.

FAO Schwarz currently carries a variety of plush Rilakkuma product in its flagship store and online at fao.com. To celebrate the brand’s shop-within-a-shop launching in October, FAO Schwarz will expand its product assortment to include Kigurumis, hats, cell phone cases, ear buds, graphic t-shirts, and new plush items.

In 2003, San-X launched Rilakkuma in Japan, and Aliquantum International (AQI) has since brought the brand to North America.

Target CEO Steps Down, Other Changes to Leadership Made

Target LogoTarget’s board of directors issued the following statement today:

“Today we are announcing that, after extensive discussions, the board and Gregg Steinhafel have decided that now is the right time for new leadership at Target. Effective immediately, Gregg will step down from his positions as chairman of the Target board of directors, president and CEO. John Mulligan, Target’s chief financial officer, has been appointed as interim president and chief executive officer. Roxanne S. Austin, a current member of Target’s board of directors, has been appointed as interim non-executive chair of the board. Both will serve in their roles until permanent replacements are named. We have asked Gregg Steinhafel to serve in an advisory capacity during this transition and he has graciously agreed.

The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company. We believe his passion for the team and relentless focus on the guest have established Target as a leader in the retail industry. Gregg has created a culture that fosters innovation and supports the development of new ideas. Under his leadership, the company has not only enhanced its ability to execute, but has broadened its strategic horizons. He also led the company through unprecedented challenges, navigating the financial recession, reacting to challenges with Target’s expansion into Canada, and successfully defending the company through a high-profile proxy battle. [Read more...]

The Prettie Girls Enjoys Strong In-Store Retail Launch

PrettyGirlsHEBThis month marked the first in-store appearance of The Prettie Girls!, a line of multicultural dolls from The One World Doll Project that began retailing at select H-E-B stores in Houston. According to an H-E-B representative, two locations sold through on inventories, resulting in H-E-B management placing an additional order.

On Saturday, April 19, doll designer Stacey McBride-Irby made special appearances at certain H-E-B locations carrying the line, autographing dolls for children. “The genuine excitement of the children when they saw The Prettie Girls! made me proud to be the designer,” McBride-Irby said. “Having happy and smiling kids line up to see the dolls made me feel wonderful; it’s a dream come true.”

PUBLISHER’S VIEWPOINT: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Feb.17.toybook.jsametby Jonathan Samet

On the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following:

Toys ‘R’ Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.”

This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. One key difference is that the time of day consumers can make purchases is no longer limited by “store hours.” With a simple click of the “enter” button, toys and other products can show up at our door—or go directly to the gift recipient—in as little as 48 hours, without having to leave the comfort of the couch or desk.

Therefore, no matter what part of the toy industry you participate in, you have to take this change seriously. We all have to continue to evaluate how to best reach and win over the end user 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—or as Seth Meyers put it, all the time, always, forever! I remember talking to many manufacturers, even within the last nine years since I became publisher here, who said that Internet sales were just a tiny fraction of their business and was of no concern. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’,” and to survive and succeed, we all better be a-changin’ with them. [Read more...]