Wal-Mart unveils its kid-approved toy list, holiday layaway dates

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 143 views 

Wal-Mart toy buyers said kids’ tastes are changing and they’re gambling on 20 top picks that show an appetite for imagination and creativity.

“The kids surprised us this year with their changing tastes in toys, but we were ready to react to their feedback,” Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart U.S., said Tuesday (Sept. 9) during a presentation at the Walmart Supercenter on Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers. “When we saw specific trends emerge, we worked closely with our toy suppliers to make sure we were stocking our toy shelves and e-commerce distribution centers with the items kids really want this holiday season.”

That said, classics like Barbie accessories, Little People play sets and Hot Wheels also got votes of kid approval this year.

This is the second year Wal-Mart let kids weigh-in on their buying decision from suppliers. In February, former Walmart U.S. CEO BIll Simon said the entertainment segment which includes toys, posted a mid single-digit negative comp during the first quarter of fiscal 2015 which included the 2013 holiday season.

He also said the retailer grew market share in toys during the 2013 holiday season, which he attributed to the “Chosen by Kids” program and a strong Black Friday event. The new management’s emphasis on increasing sales and reducing excess inventory puts mounting pressure on buyers to get the toy mix right given the vast majority to annual toy sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas Eve.

To encourage early shopping the retailer said it’s kicking off the holiday layaway option in stores this Friday (Sept. 12). Wal-Mart also said all 20 of the kid-approved toys would be covered on its Savings Catcher program beginning Wednesday (Sept. 10).

Kehoe unveiled the top 20 kid-approved holiday toy list today before a dozen of area school children invited to the Pleasant Grove Road Walmart Supercenter by the Salvation Army.  Lt. Curtis Sadler of the local Salvation Army said the children were selected from the Fayetteville and Rogers school system and regularly take part in Salvation Army programs.

“They had no idea why they were invited to the store after school today,” Sadler said.

When Kehoe pulled back the curtain to unveil the toy display she told the kids they would each take one toy home for an early holiday gift. She said focus groups of children made their favorites clear. Wal-Mart groups the toy picks into five categories.

• Creativity
Spin Master Sew Cool Sewing Machine
Moose Toys Beados
Maya Group Make Your Case Cell Phone Cover Kit
Kehoe said creativity crafts are one of the fast growing toy categories at Walmart.

• Movie/TV fans
Jakks Snow Glow Elsa Doll
Just Play Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile
Disney Palace Pets Magic Dance Pumpkin
Licensed toys from Frozen and Doc McStuffins topped the favorite list, Wal-Mart said.

• Ride-on scooters, racers
Razor Crazy Car Spinning Go Kart
Based on last year’s sales Wal-Mart said it added this category for the focus groups and the kids picked the Razor Go Kart.

• Electronics
Spin Master Flutterbyte Light Up Fairy
Spin Master Zoomer Dino
Leapfrog Leap TV
Vtech Kidizoom smartwatch
Hasbro FurReal Friends Walking Pup Pet
Spin Master Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer

• Throwback classics
Mattel Hot Wheels Street Remote Control Flying Car
Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 Blaster
Zing Airstorm Firetech Bow
Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Amazement Park Playset
Mattel Barbie Glam Camper
Mattel Hot Wheels Track Builder Turbo Takeover
Fisher Price Little People Musical Preschool

One local toy supplier Redman & Associates had planned to sell ride-on toys in Wal-Mart this holiday season. Last year, Redman sold 1.1 million battery-powered ride-on toys in the United States as made in China. A recent dispute between Redman and his China manufacturer Sales Chief has rendered Redman unable to take receipt of some $10 million in inventory headed to retail shelves for the holiday.

Wal-Mart has declined to say whether it will have Redman-assembled ride-on toys in its stores this holiday season, but there were several models on display at the Walmart Supercenter in Rogers at Pleasant Grove Road on Tuesday.

Redman has sued its Chinese manufacturer in federal court for $20 million in damages from the supply chain disruption for its products.

CEO Mel Redman said he expects to continue providing Walmart with toys, but did not disclose where or by whom they would be manufactured.