Toy Store Showdown: The Battle for Christmas Shoppers Is Already On

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Today, Toys R Us is announcing that it is opening 80 new temporary toy stores and 260 mini-toy shops within Babies R U locations to gear up for holiday-season shopping. Retailers like Sears, Wal-Mart, and Target are also ramping up efforts to get toys moving off of their shelves in what’s expected to be a wild, super-competitive, promotion-laden holiday season.

Toys R Us is filling a gap—quite literally in many cases—left by KB Toys, which went bust last year. The Toys R Us Holiday Express stores will pop up in malls around the country in October and disappear in mid-January. (After New Year’s, expect especially big discounts at these stores—because they probably won’t want the hassle and expense of moving toys to year-round locations.)

Why is Toys R Us stepping up when many retailers are scaling back? Company CEO Gerald Storch tells the WSJ: “The people who made their fortunes during the Great Depression were those that moved when everyone was pulling back.”

The Washington Post gives some more background on the toy-selling skirmishes that set the groundwork for Toys R Us’s big pop-up store strategy:

The battle for holiday sales is about to erupt in the toy aisle.

Toys R Us is expected to announce today that it will open 80 temporary stores next month in shopping centers across the country, an aggressive maneuver by a company that just a few years ago was nursing its wounds after a brutal price war with Wal-Mart. This season, the retailer seems determined to take the offensive. It will also open toy shops in more than 260 of its Babies R Us locations and has bought the rights to its rivals KB Toys and FAO Schwarz.

You can expect more and more price wars—and you can expect the battles to start early in the season, and to heat up periodically as the days grow colder. This year will likely be one like few shoppers have ever seen. Retailers, after all, were introducing Christmas displays and sales in the hazy (jolly?) days of July.

Beyond price-comparing and buying items during opportune sales, the Money Saving Blog put together some other tips for saving and budgeting during the holidays. Among the advice is to make a list (of people you might buy gifts for) and to check it twice, even if it means you’re Scrooging up the holidays a bit:

Go through this list and ask yourself honestly why you want to give a Christmas gift to this person. Cross off anyone that you don’t have a good reason for gifting.

Go through the list again. This time you’re looking to find anyone who you can get away with simply giving a card rather than a gift.

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