Squishmallows Leads Toy Growth at Five Below
Source: Five Below

There’s a new toy success story brewing at Five Below.

This week, the discount retailer revealed its fourth quarter and full-year earnings for fiscal 2021 at its first-ever investor event. Dubbed “Ignite the Vision,” the event offered investors and analysts a look into the future of Five Below for fiscal 2022 and beyond.

Five Below President and CEO Joel Anderson — a former Toys “R” Us and Walmart executive — led the presentation following the news that the company’s net sales grew by more than 45% last year capped by a 16.1% spike in Q4. Anderson says that the company is continuing to “play offense” this year as it navigates the lingering challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, toys and collectibles have become increasingly important to the retailer as it strikes deals with top brands and licensing partners, including Disney, Marvel, Fortnite champion Bugha, and others. One major gem in the mix is Jazwares’ Squishmallows brand as Five Below has become a destination for kids and collectors thanks to regular new product drops on “Sunday Squishday.”

During the investor presentation, Five Below’s Chief Merchandising Officer Michael Romanko highlighted the success of the company in identifying trends and partners and capped his portion of the event with a highlight reel devoted to the continued growth of Squishmallows.

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Looking ahead to inflation and some of the other potential financial challenges of the next year, Anderson points out that discount stores, including Five Below, have traditionally weathered similar storms and found new success. When asked about potential spending cutbacks from families, he was bullish on the outlook.

“Having spent 12 years at Toys ‘R’ Us, the last place parents cut back is on their kids,” he says. “They’re going to do everything they can to make sure the kids have a great experience around a birthday, around Christmas, around Hanukkah, whatever those rituals in life that they’re going through.”

While the company plans to stock on-trend merchandise that caters to kids as they grow up between tweens and teens and into adulthood, one area that they plan to avoid is infants and preschool, a category pointed out twice during the event as being off the table.

Five Below says that it plans to expand upon its Five Beyond concept this year and introduced a long-term vision called the “Triple-Double.” The company plans to triple its current store count and double its sales through 2025.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.