Update: 10:13 12/17/2013. Apparently, Amazon holds a large lead in the race to sell toys to Christmas shoppers. According to Bloomberg:
Gift givers searching online for a kid’s must-have toy this holiday season are more likely to find it at Amazon.com Inc. than a brick-and-mortar retailer.
In a Dec. 12 Bloomberg Industries study measuring the online availability of a basket of 100 toys, Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Kmart all lost out to their e-commerce rival. Target fared the worst with just 40 percent of the items in stock online compared with 95 percent at Amazon. What’s more, traditional chains were missing many of the items they predicted will be the hottest sellers this holiday.
Those 87 hours of Toys “R” Us will be open may not benefit the retailer much
Retailers have opened early on Thanksgiving and kept locations open until midnight in November and December to draw customers in what increasingly appears to be a year of weak holiday sales. Toys”R”Us topped those practices as it announced it will keep its stores open 87 hours in a row. The decision could well cause a chain reaction across many of the country’s largest retailers, especially those that sell any products for children.
With one week to go before kids everywhere are snug in their beds with visions of toys, games and dolls dancing in their heads, Toys“R”Us® today announced that its stores nationwide will remain open for 87 consecutive hours, ensuring last-minute shoppers get their #WishinAccomplished. Beginning at 6am on Saturday, December 21 and continuing through 9pm Christmas Eve*, gift-givers can shop day and night for all of the toys kids want most, including those that can only be found at Toys“R”Us.
By making the move, Toys”R”Us has acknowledged that the race for retail sales that began on November as a marathon has become a sprint, and retailers, particularly those that have had trouble drawing customers, are out of time. In the retail world, when the time that matters most is the holidays, running out of it means the end of the possibility for these retailers to have a good year. Soon, retailers will face months of slower store traffic in the early part of 2014.
Customers will not have to wait long to see if other large retailers will match the Toys”R”Us hours. Toy sales are obviously a staple of year-end success. The largest retailers, particularly Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), have been promoting deals on video games, children’s clothes and sporting goods for young people on their websites. Walmart.com in particular has posted discounts on a wide array of toys and children’s apparel.
Walmart does have the advantage over many retailers because so many of its locations are open 24 hours a day. For the balance of the retail industry that relies on toy sales, Toys”R”Us has changed the rules of the game.