Nick Muriella, Associate Vice President of Toys at Toys “R” Us Canada, talks about keeping the shelves stocked, holiday toy shipments and 2022 toy predictions in the toy book Annual questions and answers on the state of the industry.
The Toy Book: How did Toys “R” Us Canada make sure the shelves were stocked this holiday season?
Nick Murielle: It was a challenge for many retailers this year, but luckily being a toy-only retailer has really given us an edge. Although some items may have been out of stock at a few of our partners, the depth of our assortments has really helped to provide a positive experience for our customers. That being said, not all of our vendors have had any issues, and fortunately we have been able to maintain a steady flow of many of our in-store items consistently. We also worked closely with our partners to identify trends ahead of forecasts and made important decisions to accelerate programs as needed.
TB: Do you expect the missing holiday toy shipments to arrive in early 2022? How does Toys “R” Us Canada plan to balance this with spring 2022 product shipments?
MN: Some will for sure. The delays and container shortages were no surprise. We reviewed our inventory needs continuously throughout the season and adjusted accordingly. Based on industry lead times, Spring 2022 would have been ordered or committed before Fall 2021 sales started. We really focused on new items, knowing that existing items would arrive late. It’s about being nimble.
TB: How do online toy sales in 2021 compare to in-store sales? What will your toy offerings look like in 2022?
MN: We have had a number of store closures and government imposed restrictions which have continued into 2022. We have been delighted with the results of our online sales. This was largely due to our curbside pickup and DoorDash options. Our partnership with DoorDash has allowed us to offer customers a same day delivery option. The response was excellent!
A big part of being a Toys “R” Us kid is experiencing in-store magic: being greeted by our friendly, knowledgeable staff to show you what’s new, and if you’re lucky, even running into Geoffrey! Rediscovering the game in store is part of our DNA. In 2022 and beyond, we will continue to focus on our in-store experience. Toys are a very emotional purchase that is extremely difficult to [re-create] in line. Going to the store and playing will be back in full force in 2022.
TB: What are your predictions for the state of toy retail in 2022?
MN: I expect brick and mortar to outpace online growth as customers choose to get out and experience toy retail again. Two years of online growth have been largely driven by stay-at-home orders, school closures and a lack of family entertainment options. In 2022, expectations are high for a return to travel, vacation and movie theaters. Online growth will continue for those looking for a quick and easy transaction or to have a gift shipped to a specific location. There is no substitute for this.
This article originally appeared in the February 2022 edition of the toy book. Click here to read the full issue!