As retailers brace for what’s shaping up to be a moderately healthy holiday season, Walmart is starting early, releasing its “Top Toy” list and revving up its seasonal lay-away program. Its announcements come just as eMarketer releases one of the industry’s earliest forecasts, predicting that total holiday retail sales will increase 3.1% — a solid increase, but still less than last year’s gain of 4.5%.
Walmart, which says it bases its ranking on toys chosen by hundreds of kids, puts heavy emphasis on exclusive items. Among the most-loved toys are those that are interactive and collectible, such as Hatchimals, LittleBits Star Wars Droid inventor kit and Barbie DreamHorse and doll. That category has been a primary growth engine for toys recently: The NPD Group says global sales of collectible toys jumped 15% in the first six months of the year, and now make up close to 10% of dollar sales in the total toy market.
Walmart says hot ride-on toys include the Frozen Sleigh and Huffy Electric Green Machine Trike, and licensed products, such as Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower and Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway, are also popular.
Toy industry experts are predicting solid sales improvements for toys, with the NPD Group recently forecasting a 4% rise in global toy sales for the year. From January to June, it says toy sales have grown 3% from the same period a year ago. (U.S. toy sales also increased 3% in that period.) Much of the growth, it says, will be related to movies, including Star Wars, Cars 3, Transformers and Spider-Man, as well as collectibles.
NPD also says that 2017 represents a toy-marketing breakthrough on social media, with the viral fidget spinner craze. “While in years past it would have taken something like fidget spinners months to travel internationally, today, social media outlets are allowing consumers around the world to discover new toys at the same time,” it says in its report. “Trends are amplifying quickly … which is both a challenge and an opportunity.”
Walmart also says it’s kicking off its free layaway program again. While there’s no fee, it requires putting 10% down, and customers can buy items priced as low as $10 on layaway.
Source: Media Post Social