In the first holiday season since the liquidation of iconic category specialist Toys R Us, many uncertainties lingered leading up to this crucial selling season. With shoppers looking for a new toy destination, suppliers seeking new outlets to make up for lost Toys R Us share, and retailers working to maximize sales, the fourth quarter of 2018 is shaping up to be vastly different from that of previous years.

The positive news for retail this holiday season? Plenty of opportunity exists across the retail landscape. Top-line fourth-quarter sales are expected to grow, largely due to strong online sales. From a shopper perspective, low unemployment, income gains, and ongoing benefits from tax reform mean more dollars are in play this holiday season. Although significantly more shoppers plan to spend the same on gifts in 2018 compared with 2017 (likely feeling the squeeze inflation is putting on their budgets), the proportion of shoppers planning to spend less continues to decrease, signaling a positive spending outlook overall.

The toy category itself also poses growth opportunity, with a forecasted growth rate of 4.5% in 2018. While Walmart, Amazon, and Target dominate the category in terms of share of preference, the absence of Toys R Us has freed up toy share. Quick to capitalize on this open space, retailers of all sizes, specialties, and channels are throwing their hats in the ring to capture incremental dollars and finish 2018 on a strong note in what is truly shaping up to be “the year of the toy.”

In Kantar Consulting’s first edition of the Holiday Toy Tracker, we analyze the toy strategies of 13 retailers ranging from emerging players in the toy category, to expanding incumbents working to differentiate their toy assortment, to leading retailers battling for the top spot in holiday toy sales.

As the holiday season unfolds, stay tuned for updates to the 2018 Holiday Toy Tracker. We’ll highlight best practices from Black Friday and Cyber Week and analyze strategies of other key toy stakeholders.

For more information, please contact:

Hannah Hayes, Analyst

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