The days of our childhood dreams are well and truly over. Toys R Us is currently on the brink of collapse as the company is held accountable to pay a £15 million tax bill.
For many of us, the celebrations and rewards of our youth were lived out through the superstore which seemed to house everything you could ever have imagined. Forget the Argos catalogue – Toys R Us’ 105 UK stores contained endless aisles of brand and product variety. Recently, however, the commercial chain has failed to keep up with online competitors who sell the same, if not a wider, range of products at a cheaper price.
Although things haven’t been looking so rosy for a while now, the company reported a disappointing festive period as the catalyst for its administration. Toys R Us has been forced to concede that its looming VAT bill is out of their financial reach.
The Guardian reported that a visit to a store on the outskirts of Manchester was just like a ‘nostalgia trip’. In today’s current market, though, where technology is intercepting the toy industry and filtering its way into the hollow plastic shells children from the 90s were accustomed to, Stretch Armstrong doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
Arguably, however, there are more factors that come into play: the stores are often located in retail parks which are difficult to reach by public transport or foot, thus paling in comparison to the convenience of city centres or online retail giants like Amazon. Notably, recent ecommerce statistics indicate that there are now over 90 million Amazon Prime users in the US, and this equates to around 44% of households across the states. If the UK can be taken to be a comparable consumer market based on cultural similarities, this would suggest there is a dying need for stores when these delivery services come right to your doorstep.
To keep itself alive, Toys R Us has been forced to stock and retail items at a relatively high price compared to the equivalent available online. What might cost £20 on eBay, for example, is twice the price in Toys R Us and often a more obscure product. Rather unfortunately, the novelty of the store’s bespoke and wondrous nature as manifested in this quality service is wearing off. The instant gratification of online retail is increasingly embedded into consumer psyches of today, thus affecting how we decide to distribute our custom in the real world. Toys R Us’ failure stands as testament to this change.
Image: [Says Malaysia]