China Toy Fair


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...]

Thanksgiving Weekend Spending According to the NRF

logoAccording to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American shoppers took advantage of tons of Thanksgiving weekend deals. More than 141 million unique shoppers have shopped through the end of Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year.

Between all of the low prices and aggressive discounts, holiday shoppers have started earlier than ever this year, spending $407.02 on average, from Thursday through Sunday. More than 75 percent of shoppers tended to be young people between the ages of 18 and 34.

Although a lot of shopping was done in store, 40 percent of people indicated that they shopped online over the weekend (approximately 59 million shoppers). Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular as retailers tout special holiday savings through their mobile apps and web sites. Clothes, electronics, and books, DVDs, and video games were among popular items purchased over the weekend.

COMMENTARY: Will Black Friday Need to Be Rebranded?

by David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC

The Christmas holidays and toys are synonymous. Indeed, toys and the Christmas season are a tradition. Another holiday tradition is Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Yet over the past several years, Black Friday has started to lose its meaning with retailers pushing opening hours ever earlier. Now many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day, and pushing the envelope to see how early they can open on that holiday. This is an attempt in some aspects to rebrand the holiday shopping season and establish Thanksgiving Day as the start of the traditional shopping season. Retailers are stating that they are responding to consumer demand; yet surveys show that 87 percent of Americans are opposed to retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day (even though they frequent the stores).

So what would be a smart strategy for the toy industry as this happens? Should toy stores open on Thanksgiving? Should toymakers make a strong push for Thanksgiving Day sales? Is Black Friday over and should everyone jump on the Thanksgiving Day bandwagon? The answer to these questions is a resounding no. [Read more...]

The Beatrix Girls Makes Its Retail Debut at Toys “R” Us Stores Nationwide

TheBeatrixGirlsThe Beatrix Girls, a new line of collectible pop-star dolls driven by original music, is set to empower and inspire young girls nationwide with its retail debut this month at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. Kids can collect their music, join their fan club, and vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop star through play.

The Beatrix Girls have already generated a huge amount of momentum securing early strategic deals with licensing partners such as Peavey Instruments, along with nine other licensing partners covering every major category, including apparel, accessories, back-to-school stationary, footwear, and more.

The Beatrix Girls collection of dolls is recommended for ages 5 and up.

NRF Forecasts an Average Holiday Season

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting this year’s holiday season to be just average. Although last year’s holiday season outperformed most analysts’ expectations, NRF expects 2011 holiday retail sales to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion, close to the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.6 percent. Last year, retailers experienced a 5.2 percent increase.

For the first time this year, NRF used its holiday forecasting model to create a projection for seasonal hiring in retail. According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, which is comparable to the 495,000 seasonal employees they hired last year.

July Retail Sales Increase Year-Over-Year for Back-to-School Season

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), as back-to-school sales start, retail industry sales for July (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Retail industry sales also declined 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.

July retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from June and increased 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Back-to-school related categories also saw year-over-year gains, according to the NRF. Clothing and accessories stores were up 4.7 percent over last July, but declined 0.7 percent from June. Electronics and appliance stores increased 8.1 percent year-over-year and declined 0.1 percent from last month. Furniture and home furnishing stores increased 0.4 percent from the same period a year ago and declined 0.3 percent from June.

A survey conducted by NRF, released in July, found that the average family of students in grades K-12 would spend $594.24 on back-to-school this year, an increase of 8.3 percent compared to $548.72 last year.

Report: U.S. Retail e-Commerce to Grow Nearly 13 Percent

According to a revised eMarketer forecast, U.S. retail e-commerce sales (excluding travel, digital downloads, and event tickets) will grow by 12.7 percent in 2010 to $152.1 billion. eMarketer estimates that in 2014 online sales will reach $233.9 billion, with a growth rate of 8.2 percent due to “maturation of the online sales channel.” The revised forecast follows the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent news that online sales in Q4 2009 grew 14.6 percent compared to a year earlier, the biggest gain in eight quarters.

[Read more...]