Growing up I vividly remember my first time in a Toys “R” Us, with its shelves packed to the brim with toys; each time I walked through its sliding doors was an adventure. What would I find? Fifteen years later and now my nephew experiences the same mystery that I once had. However, this experience may soon fade for many of our nation’s youth. This week Toys “R” Us, the largest toy retailer in the United States has filed for bankruptcy protection. Once I heard the news, I couldn’t help but wonder how this could happen? The answer is simple, the entrancing effect of video entertainment on children and the growth of online shopping.
With the increased availability of television, cell phones, and tablets, more kids are turning to video screens for their entertainment and as such toy retailers like Toys “R” Us are floundering due to their reliance on the purchase of physical items rather than complex hardware or software. Children now have a seemingly endless ways of entertainment themselves via the internet and an ever-growing number of apps and games found on modern tablets and phones. So, it is unsurprising that children are losing interest in physical toys when they seemingly have an unlimited number sitting in the palms of their hands. Current research has even shown that children ages 8-18 spend nearly eight hours a day using video entertainment media. Similarly, children are spending less time outside, so bigger ticket outdoor items like bikes and skateboards are not nearly as enticing as they once were. Aside from the uphill battle Toys “R” Us faces in regards to current child consumer trends, it must also tussle with the societal growth of online buying. For instance, according to Forbes magazine, about 51% of current purchases occur online, which causes physical retailers to suffer due to a drop in foot traffic which causes problems in maintaining a freestanding facility.
As a response to its recent troubles, the retailer stated that it will be hiring seasonal staff and shifting to smaller stores to adapt to the changing consumer market. I don’t know how Toys “R” Us will fare in the near future with the cards stacked against it, but what I do know is I’ll always have my fond memories of my adventures in Toys “R” Us’s aisles on the quest for my next treasure. From a ten-year-old me to Toys “R” Us, thanks for the memories and “good luck.”