View Full Version : A Disturbing Occurence at Toy Retailers

01-11-2005, 12:52 PM
This past Christmas season, I noticed something rather disturbing and disheartening at toy retailers across the board. Pretty much every store I visited over the busy Christmas shopping season (and I went to a lot of them) seemed to have the same problem - empty shelves and pegs in the action figure aisles. Now I know that we are constantly being fed the line that the action figure and collectible figure market is in a major downward slide presently, and that's why it's become so hard to find product but I see a serious flaw in that logic. It seems to me that as a retail store (and I've spent a lot of time working in the retail industry) it would be most desireable to have merchandise on hand for potential purchasing during the busy and all-important holiday shopping season. It only makes sense - retail stores make most of their yearly sales during this time and the retail toy business always does the vast majority of it's business during this time. Why then, would I walk into a store that sells toys at this time and see aisle after aisle of fully stocked product (overstocked, in fact) in every aisle of the toy department (and storewide at TRU and Kay-Bee) except in the action figure aisle, where this past season I consistently found that most of the pegs and shelves were completely bare?
The way I see it, there can be only one of two reasons for this kind of thing to happen. One - action figures are actually selling quite well (in spite of retailers claims to the contrary) and most of them were simply caught with their pants down this past season having not ordered enough product to meet demand. Or two - all of the product that stores had stocked in the action/collectible figure aisles sold out quickly and consistently during the shopping season.
I am certain that I am not imagining this phenomenon. Literally - every store I went into between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve had the same situation: a glut of merchandise in the girls sections (Barbies, Bratz dolls, Strawberry Shortcake, Polly Pocket, etc.), the toddler's aisles (baby toys, plush, Disney items, etc.), the educational toys sections, the toy cars aisles, puzzles and games and all the rest, and yet a good forty to sixty percent on average of the peg and shelf space in the figure aisles was left bare. At TRU stores in my area (there are five of them) they even went so far as to stock entire endcaps - floor to ceiling - with 'Real Talkin' Bubba', a teddy bear! Was there no other place that particular item could've been stocked? Was it that popular a seller? Where people actually clamoring for Bubba's smooth southern charm that much that they were wandering into action figure aisles in a desperate bid to get their hands on him? Was there no other product that actually belonged in that section in stock that could've been placed there?
I ask you this fellow figure fans: How could toy retailers possibly know how well or poorly action figures are performing if they never had any in stock during the most brisk sales season of the year, and if they did have any in stock to know how well they performed financially then how can they explain the fact that none of it ever stayed on the shelves long enough for the shelves to look full? [As an aside: during my many years in the retail biz, if ever one of my superiors from either district or corporate came into the store during the holiday season and found any empty stock space, there was MAJOR hell to pay!]
My mom and grandmother have always demanded a Christmas list from me every year since I was first able to write. This year I gave them and my girlfriend a full page list - most of which would've been found in the action figure aisle. All three complained to me that they were unable to find nearly every item I had listed. I didn't ask for anything that was at all obscure; all of it should've been readily available at any Toy Retailer. For any retail buyers out there that are reading this, that equals MISSED SALES. In what world does a situation like this make any sense? Don't you folks want our money?! :confused: :stupid:

01-11-2005, 02:53 PM
This seems to have been a problem for the last year or more in my area, not just the holidays.
I think slower sales have lead to lower orders which means what did get ordered gets snatched up pretty fast.

01-11-2005, 07:30 PM
I noticed limited stock as well,it seemed people were buying things they normally didnt just to tell kids/family "Hey I tried,heres whatever was in stock". I think many reports put out by the media that people werent going to buy much might have caused retailers to scale back their orders to make more profit and have their stock look good.On the other hand,nothing can be sold unless its out on the shelves

01-11-2005, 07:44 PM
I saw the same issue. Empty pegs and such at most stores I went into. Christmas is all about toys for kids.(and us). I did luck out and find the ROTJ VOTC. I went into a store today and found the last waves of the OTC on the pegs, on clearance to boot. GOod for me, bad for them. They could have easily made more money by packing them out a few weeks earlier. I dont care. I got mine at a good price. My gain there loss.

But enough about my hunt....in a business like this I would be irked if I was the supplier. Stores not packing out at a peak point in the year. Businesses lose out because less product is ordered. I hope this isnt a sign of years to come.

01-14-2005, 05:39 AM
I hate to agree, but it's like that up here too....
Bratz and barbies, mostly, and at TRU lots of 5 year old marvel figures and stuff
There are transformers and stuff, but still not much in the way of action figures... and we usually either A) only get the first wave of something or B) get stuff like Butt-Ugly martians in HUGE quantities after the line has already failed down south

our Zellers (dunno if ya got them there, pretty big department store) had like 4 pegs of space allotted to SW figs :beard: like others have stated, if your "selection" is 3 figures on 4 pegs, you might not move too many too quickly, even worse if they're 6 months late

Bobby Fett
01-14-2005, 09:20 AM
In reference to empty pegs, I have been on a mission lately:

The local Wally World currently has eight pegs, which can hold nine figures each, for SW. For over a week they have had only 14 figures on the pegs. Each time I go in (daily), the figures are thoughtfully spread out over all eight pegs. So I carefully rearrange them onto one full peg and one half full peg, thereby leaving six pegs empty.

What does this accomplish?

1. Other customers can notice the vacant pegs and wonder why they're vacant.

2. An employee has to spread them back out over the eight pegs. They do this religiously.

3. SOMEONE has to notice the empty space available for new stock.

4. It makes me feel better.

01-14-2005, 09:28 AM
Bobby, one day while you are in there, ask an employee to scan the tag with that gun thingy(Telxon Giun I think). It will tell you if any are on order of if any more are in stock. If they have em in stock, then scream"Pack the Damn THings out. I wanna spend my money". At that point one of two things iwll happen...

1.They will pack them out.
2. Security will beat you down.

My money is on option one.

01-14-2005, 09:44 AM
I went to a TRU in Charleston South Carolina while I was home on leave and they had their pegs packed full.............. Full of the sneak preview Zam Wessels, the R2 with lightning on him and the Jango Fett. They had like twenty or so of each.

01-14-2005, 04:11 PM
I saw the same Sneak Preview figs at a TRU in Indianapolis around christmas too. It was like I went back in time. I'll also arrange all the figs on one peg to show that they need to put more stock out. I don't think it works either.

TRUs seemed to be bare as the holiday season wore on, and I felt they simply weren't re-stocking with sufficient quantities IMO. While Wal-Marts have pretty much reset their toy section and restocked with new product like the POTC, TRU is still bare and lagging behind. No wonder the company is having problems.

The Wal-Marts I hit last month were stocked to the gills up through christmas. They had so much stuff out that they were putting it wherever they had space. I spotted pegs of VOTC in the toddler or girls toys aisles; and Galactic Heroes, Animated Clone Wars, and JediForce lumped together in the pre-school aisle. LOTR figure sets were stuffed on the bottom shelf under TMNT and Transformers, but they sold out anyway.