With holiday toy shopping, consumers say they prefer to hit the stores in person

Despite the rapid growth of online shopping, most customers plan to shop for their toys in person this holiday season, according to RetailMeNot.

The expert deal site found in a survey of 1,091 Americans over the age of 18 that 87 percent of respondents plan to shop in-store for holiday toy gifts. RetailMeNot said the average a parent plans to spend in holiday gifts for their child is $247 – a larger amount than they will be spending on their parents or significant others.

This holiday shopping season is significant as retailers will no longer have to compete with former toy giant Toys R Us, which closed all its stores earlier this year. Without the behemoth, retailers – traditional brick-and-mortar stores and newer online groups – are trying to get consumers’ holiday toy dollars.

“With the loss of Toys R Us, there’s a void to fill,” said Marissa DiBartolo, editor in chief of The Toy Insider, a toy review website. “I think every retailer is trying to grab a piece of that.”

Where consumers will be shopping

Toys R Us was, as its name implies, a major player in the toy market. The company raked in $11 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year.

Given this hole in the market, RetailMeNot wanted to find out where customers plan on shopping for toys, according to Michelle Skupin, the company’s senior director of marketing and communications.

“We were curious about  shoppers were going to do in the absence of Toys R Us in the marketplace,” Skupin said.

The answer appears to lie in other retail giants. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who plan to shop in-person for toys said they will be going to big box stores, such as Target and Walmart. Meanwhile, 37 percent said they will be going to department stores for their toys, 25 percent at warehouse stores that require a membership and 15 percent at a local children’s shop. 

Skupin said the amount of people planning to shop in stores for holiday toys is “not that surprising,” as a strong majority of retail shopping still occurs within the brick-and-mortar shops. 

As for why consumers prefer in-store shopping, Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy GlobalData, said it is an “occasion” to shop with children. And for shoppers who either don’t have children or aren’t familiar with their preferences, Saunders said “it is probably good” for them to shop in person to inquire about toys, see what look like and ensure they are good fits to give as gifts.

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