Toys "R" Us says it is stepping up its expansion plans and that it plans to have 21 new stores open by the end of the year. That includes 11 superstores and 10 locations with both a Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us under one roof.
The Wayne, N.J.-based retailer is also remodeling 23 existing locations to this "side-by-side" format, which it says provides convenience for parents as well as the ability to cultivate customer loyalty "as their children grow and they transition from Babies "R" Us to Toys "R" Us shoppers," the company says in its release.
At a time when many retailers are shifting to smaller-format stores, these new units are large: 60,000 square feet. And by year's end, the company says it plans to have 43 of the superstores nationwide. (Stores began opening this year in April and will continue opening through October, in time for the holiday shopping season.)
Last year, the company made news with a very different strategy, opening 600 pop-up stores around the country and taking advantage of mall vacancies created by the recession. A spokesperson for the chain declined to give any details about pop-ups for this year. "We've got a lot in store for the upcoming holiday season," she says in an email. "Please stay tuned."
Experts are hoping toy sales will be strong in the coming holiday season, despite consumer concerns. Last year, global toy sales increased 4.7% to $83.3 billion, according to the NPD Group. And the U.S. market remained the world's largest, with annual sales of nearly $22 billion.
Earlier this month, the chain announced that it would introduce a line of dog toys, to be sold under the Toys "R" Us Pets brand name at PetSmart. The line, which includes more than 100 items, is set to bow this spring.