Is Toys ‘R’ Us Making a Comeback?

(via @ToysRUs on Twitter)

(via @ToysRUs on Twitter)

Priscilla Le, Managing Editor

Toys ‘R’ Us is an international product retailer that focuses on providing consumers, mainly parents, with children’s toys/clothing and baby products (Babies ‘R’ Us). It was founded by Charles Lazarus who started the company off as a children’s store in April 1948, then developed the actual brand in June of 1957. This company has been familiar to millions across the United States as a childhood franchise but has made headlines since filing for bankruptcy on September 18th, 2017.

The reason for this being because of long-term debt and the fact that Toys ‘R’ Us has not accumulated an annual profit since 2013. In fact, the company has been reporting a net loss of over $100-million each quarter since then. January 2018, an announcement was made stating that Toys ‘R’ Us would be undergoing liquidation and closing up to 182 of its stores in the US. which a few months later in March developed into the decision of shutting down all of its stores. By the end of the month, liquidation sales in existing stores began and the company’s online shopping website was shut down. June 29th, 2018, all remaining stores in the US were officially closed down as well.

“Guess who’s back?” On October 6th, Toys ‘R’ Us shared a tweet featuring their mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe. (via @ToysRUs on Twitter)

 

This tweet has caused major backlash from many former employees, accusing the company of profiting from bankruptcy and not compensating laid-off workers with severance pay. One Twitter user responded, “You liquidate your assets, you close stores, you layoff all your employees, you owe vendors millions of dollars… and then you turn around and say ‘never mind?'” The tweet has received over a thousand comments from former workers calling the brand out on missing bonuses/severance pays in their last paycheck, how hundreds of laid-off people are still looking for work, and saying how the company has a “lack of proper management.”

Other retailing companies such as Walmart, Target, and Party City are putting in more effort to gain the nearly 12% of the U.S. toy market that Toys ‘R’ Us left behind with their closure. And as Toys ‘R’ Us hints at making a return to the world of business just as holiday season is beginning to approach, the competition has become much more intense. The strategy most of these retailers are using is improving their customers’ shopping experience by building play areas for children, more dynamic toy demos, and interactive promotions such as in-store scavenger hunts. Walmart is expanding their toy selection on their online store by nearly 40% (30% of their total supply will be completely new) and during the months of November and December, are rebranding their toy area as “America’s Best Toy Shop”. Target is remodeling its toy area in 100 stores across the U.S., using extra space at 500 stores located near former Toys ‘R’ Us to devote to larger toys such as instruments/electronic cars, and are also planning to increase the amount of kids’ events hosted to boost sales. Toy City, a smaller brand of Party City, opened fifty pop-up shops in September featuring large Lego dinosaur demos and other displays.

 

Toys ‘R’ Us logo (via Wikipedia)

Although it was one of America’s beloved, go-to toy brand for many years, Toys ‘R’ Us faces many challenges as the company “revives” itself after taking a few months off the grid, including liquidation, criticism for leaving 33,000 people without jobs, and recovery from bankruptcy. Attempting to go back into business without full consumer support may prove to be fatal, but this publicity may also be just what the financially struggling brand needs to inflate profits. Will consumers go back to shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us once the company comes back to life? Or will competition from other retail rivals such as online store, Amazon, be too great?