While Toys R Us hopes that shutting 26 stores as part of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) can stop it falling into administration, the only way it can save itself is by rejuvenating the rest of its tired portfolio says GlobalData a leading data and analytics company.
Fiona Paton, Retail Analyst at Globaldata, commented, ‘’As more toy sales move online Toys R Us has struggled, but other toy specialist chains have managed to steal market share, with The Entertainer and Smyths Toys both rolling out stores and delivering growth. Additionally, the market has remained steady in toys & games growing 16.8% over the last five years, meaning Toys R Us’ position is not one of external market conditions but rather its own strategy. The retailer now has to make crucial and expensive investments in adding ‘retail theatre’ to its stores and giving consumers new reasons to visit if it is to continue operating in the UK.’’
E-commerce has been a threat to Toys R Us with the online toys & games market growing 62.8% over the last five years and now representing 36.8% of sector sales in 2017. Toys R Us has not completely neglected online and currently offers free delivery over £29.99 and free click & collect in 29 minutes. However, Amazon and Argos offer faster, more convenient and affordable delivery options.
While online has grown in prominence, toys & games retailers can still prosper by offering an exciting experience for children.
Paton continued, ”Toys R Us’ large warehouse stores were once exciting as children had never been able to see such a wide range of toys in one place but online shopping now offers a more convenient way to browse such a wide selection of toys. Toys R Us must give families a new reason to enter stores, whether this is through opening new convenience formats to benefit from higher footfall or investing in better visual merchandising and entertainment (in a similar way to Hamleys on Regent Street) in old legacy stores to reinstate its original destination status.’’
Toys R Us has also struggled to compete on price, having made a loss in seven out of the last eight years. As a result, price matching aggressive competitors is very difficult when there is no margin left to sacrifice. With other retailers offering lower prices as well as a better instore experience or a stronger online service, consumers have little motive to choose Toys R Us.
Paton added, ‘’If Toys R Us is to survive, its focus must be on creating an exciting instore experience to bring it in line with competitors on the high street.’’