Walmart Pushes to Fill the Hole Left Behind by Toys ‘R’ Us Bankruptcy

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Late August might seem to most of us as a little early to be thinking about the December holiday season, but it’s not too early for retailers, especially for retailers willing to raise the price of poker.

The Toys “R” Us bankruptcy filing officially ended with the closing of the last store in late June. The storied retailer leaves behind a pot worth about $7 billion in toy sales. Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) played its first card on Thursday, announcing that it is expanding its toy offerings both in stores and online.

The company said it plans to expand its in-store toy selection by 30% and its online selection by 40%. Walmart’s vice president of toys, Anne Marie Kehoe, said:

[W]e are making even bigger investments in the category to ensure we have the widest selection of toys at the best prices and an unmatched in-store and online experience to show customers the best place to shop for toys is Walmart.

Walmart bills the expansion as part of its plan to be “America’s Best Toy Shop.” In addition to a broader selection, the company plans to offer more in-store demos and events, continue with its top-rated toys listing (boosted from 25 top toys to 40 this year) and, beginning August 31, the store’s layaway plan for holiday shoppers.

The company website now includes an America’s Best Toy Shop as a specialty shopping destination, similar to the expanded online baby gear site it launched in late July. Like the baby site, the online toy story will include curated toy collections that Walmart says will help find customers “find inspiration and shop for toys with ease.”

Walmart is not alone chasing former Toys “R” Us customers. Target, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Amazon are also beefing up their toy assortments, aiming to use the coming holiday season to pick up sales in a U.S. toy market that grew by 7% in the first half of this year, according to retail research firm NPD Group. The global market for toys reached $18.4 billion in the first six months of this year in 13 international markets, and NPD Group forecasts sales to reach $99 billion in 2022.

Walmart shares traded down about 0.1% early Friday at $95.92. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $77.50 to $109.98, and the consensus price target is $103.76.

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