REAL ESTATE

Toys ‘R’ Us’ holiday plans: fewer pop-ups, more exclusives

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Toys “R” Us is cutting back on the number of temporary holiday stores it opens this year compared with last, but it is significantly expanding the number of exclusive products it offers, chairman and CEO Jerry Storch said at a press conference Wednesday. The retail chief’s bet on the hottest toy of the season: Animal Planet’s Air Swimmers line (helium-filled, radio-controlled flying fish), which will be available only at Toys “R” stores and via its website.

Storch said Toys “R” Us has not yet determined the exact number of holiday pop-ups it will open. It will be more than the 90 temporary locations it opened in 2009, but not as many as the 600 pop-ups it operated last year.

“Our focus is on getting better results from fewer stores,” Storch said.

However, the company is significantly increasing the number of temporary holiday stores it will open in Canada, and is testing the format in other countries.

Storch noted that Toys “R” Us has experienced five consecutive years of postive same-store sales in Christmas. He emphasized that the chain competes more on product than it does on price.

"At Toys"R"Us, we believe that differentiation and innovation will set us apart and help us win with consumers this holiday season," Storch said. "Price matters, but kids want the right toy.”

To drive home its exclusive offerings, Toys “R” Us, for the first time ever, is launching a 44-page catalogue featuring about 350 items only available at Toys “R” Us. The chain is also beefing up its marketing, including TV commercials, to promote its exclusive products.

“Competitors can’t cut prices on items they don’t have,” Storch said.

The chain, whose e-commerce sales rose 30% in 2010, is also increasing its digital presence, increasing promotions on its Web site and Facebook and carry more products online.

"I am a huge believer in the Internet," Storch said.

The company also continues to focus on creating a seamless in-store and online shopping experience for customers. It has expanded its "Buy Online, Pick Up In Store" program and the addition of a “Family and Friends Pick Up” component. In October, Toys “R” Us will begin to leverage inventory from its network of stores through a "Ship from Store" program to help fulfill its online orders.

The CEO declined to give any holiday predictions, saying only: “I believe Christmas will come and that customers will want to buy presents for their kids:”

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STORE SPACES

J.C. Penney’s new Dallas store reflects chain’s commitment to energy

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — J.C. Penney Co. will unveil the newest iteration of its store model with the opening of its new Dallas store in the TimberCreek Crossing shopping center on Sept. 30.

The 105,000-sq.-ft. single-level store provides an assortment of services under one roof, including dedicated in-store environments for MNG by Mango and a 1,700-sq.-ft. Sephora shop.

The TimberCreek Crossing store also reflects the retailer’s commitment to energy efficiency. It is one of two stores selected for inclusion in the Department of Energy’s Net-Zero Energy Project. Under project guidelines, the store is designed to achieve energy savings of 50% or more compared with code-minimum energy-efficiency requirements for similar new buildings.

The new location, also certified as "Designed to Earn the Energy Star," is incorporating features such as:

  • High-efficiency 12.6 EER rooftop heating and air-conditioning units.
  • Energy-saving, long-lasting LED lights throughout the store.
  • Double-layer roof insulation and spray-foam wall insulation to yield higher "R" values than typical stores.
  • Radiant heating in the receiving dock area to reduce reliance on natural gas.
  • Skylights with automatic daylight dimming controllers in offices and stockrooms.
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OPERATIONS

Big Y to eliminate self-checkout

BY Staff Writer

Springfield, Mass. — Big Y Supermarkets plans to get rid of self-checkouts in all of its 61 stores by the end of 2011.

"After extensive research, Big Y has concluded that these self checkout lanes not only do not save their customers time but usually take them even more time to check out than customers in standard checkout lanes," the company said in a statement. “Self-checkout lines get clogged as the customers needed to wait for store staff to assist with problems with bar codes, coupons, payment problems and other issues that invariably arise with many transactions."

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