The last few months were contentious ones for the Toys “R” Us family. The retailer filed for bankruptcy last September and announced plans to close half its U.S. stores in February. A month later, the retailer shifted gears and opted to liquidate all of its U.S. stores, including Babies “R” Us locations. And just like that, the Toys “R” Us era came to a close.
While many families are heartbroken over this news, there could be a silver lining: you might be able to score a bargain on inventory, if you’re savvy.
British researchers found that while the average 10-year-old child owns 238 toys, they play with only 12 on a daily basis. Your child might not need any more toys or games, but this can still be a good opportunity for parents to stock up without paying full price. It’s also your only opportunity to use up any gift cards you have left. In fact, the retailer will be offering liquidation sales until June but will put the kibosh on gift card use on April 21. You already can no longer use coupons for the retailer and the time has passed to convert your Toys “R” Us gift cards to ones for Bed, Bath and Beyond. (To take advantage of that deal, customers had to lose quite a bit in conversion anyway.)
It’s been announced that Toys “R” Us has already shut down its website, so don’t expect to find anything good there (though I did just check and some items are available online) . But if you’re disappointed by the selection and lack of deep discounts, remember that liquidation sales vary greatly depending on the retail location and what customers really want. You might snag a deal on something your child has been wanting for the past two Christmases or you might walk away empty-handed. In addition, some of the more significant discounts won’t be put in place until later on — and often, that’s when the pickings become really slim. There have also been reports that stores have removed their big-ticket items, including Apple merchandise and video games, completely.
Before you head to one of the 735 Toys “R” Us locations nationwide, it’s important to keep your expectations in check. U.S. retailers sit on about $1.43 in inventory for every $1 in sales they make, but that doesn’t mean that liquidation sales are always great. An earlier round of the retailer’s closures saw only 10% to 30% off merchandise, which probably isn’t as much as you might expect. Social media users who went in-person to check out the sale early on were disappointed to find Legos were only 5% off. Not only is that percentage fairly pitiful on its own, but it’s even worse when you realize that the chain regularly prices items far above what Amazon, Walmart, and Target charges full-price for the same products!
I myself (Lisa) went to a Toys “R” Us store here in the Twin Cities and found no deals whatsoever. The only deals worth noting – 30% off – were on gift wrap and that sort of thing. Everything else was 5% off, which is nothing compared to its competitors, yet the store was busy! People were buying things – hopefully more for the selection than the price. Though I heard that some stores had better deals, but were a mess from all the crowds.
A few tips:
- If you have a Toys “R” Us gift card, you have until April 21st to use it (it’s best to use it ASAP).
- If you made a purchase at a non-closing store or online, you can return it until April 21st. Otherwise, any purchase made at a closing store cannot be returned.
- Don’t expect to find great deals – the best reason to go is for the selection.
Unfortunately, the 70-year-old chain didn’t have what it takes to survive in the digital age. While the closure is a sad one, at least parents will be able to browse the aisles one last time — and get their bargain-hunting fix with Amazon and other retailers who have embraced the e-commerce movement.