Toys 'R' Us stores popping up for the holidays


Toys R Us stores will be sprouting up all over this fall, kind of like tulips in spring. The toy retailer is opening 350 "pop up" or temporary stores for the holidays beginning this October.

Seems one store's failure is Toys R Us' gain. With so many retailers closing, there's some prime real estate available and landlords are amenable to negotiating short term leases. Toys R Us isn't giving away any details, but a spokeswoman tells Walletpop, "We are pleased with the economic terms for these locations. That being said, we focused on securing locations in the best malls nationwide."

Close to 80 stand-alone locations will open in malls around the country including Woodbury Commons, NY and the Deer Park Town Center in Ill. These "Holiday Express" shops will have a tailored assortment of the toys and games normally found at regular Toys R Us stores, and will average 4,000 sq. ft., about the size of a RadioShack.

Even smaller Toys R Us stores will open as Holiday Express departments within 260 Babies R Us stores. Toys R Us CEO Jerry Storch says the goal is to be more conveniently located during the holidays. Now that KB Toys is no longer, there's an opportunity for a mall-based toy store to capture incremental sales. Since most Toys R Us locations are big boxes in strip malls, the chain stand to get both driving and foot traffic.

Toys R Us gave up its title of largest toy retailer to Walmart years ago and specialty stores have had a difficult time competing with discount and club stores. In 2005, Toys R Us was struggling and a private equity firm took over, hired Storch and has since benefited from reduced overhead and cost cutting.

Toy sales are shrinking at all retailers, but not as much as other product categories such as apparel. According to market research firm The NPD Group, toys sales this year so far are down around 2%, With less to go around, Toys "R" Us has to do something to grab a bigger share of the toy-buying public.

But will more doors ring up more sales? That remains to be seen.

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