JCPenney Opens 500 Stores to Tap Into $13B Baby Retail Market

Amazon, JCPenney and more to fill Babies R Us, Toys R Us void.
  • This summer, Toys R Us closed the last of its retail stores for good.
  • The baby care business is growing and expected to reach over $13 billion by 2021.
  • Amazon, Walmart, Buy Buy Baby and other retailers are jumping in to fill the void in the baby care business left by Babies R Us.

Parents and expecting parents shouldn’t mourn the loss of Toys R Us and Babies R Us. Former rivals of the now-defunct retailer are all too eager to fill the void and claim a piece of the baby care business, a market that’s expected to reach over $13 billion in the next three years.

JCPenney has made a strategic move as it expands its baby department selection and moves in on Babies R Us’ former territory. The struggling retailer is no stranger to the baby market, but has sold car seats, strollers and furniture exclusively through its website. Starting Aug. 30, customers will be able to shop in-person for baby products from respected brands including Avent, Graco, Fisher Price, Carter’s and Gerber in 500 JCPenney stores, many in close proximity to a recently shuttered baby retailer. Additionally, shoppers will also be able to pick up baby essentials like bottles, pacifiers, diaper bags, bouncer seats and activity centers.

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Shoppers will notice updated in-store signage and graphics, and curated item positioning in the baby shops. The in-store presence and baby product expansion coincides with JCPenney’s annual “Baby Sale” later this month.

Toy sales in the U.S. have been stale, but not for Amazon. The online behemoth is now responsible for roughly one out of every six dollars spent on toys in America, according One Click Retail’s “Toys On Amazon: 2017 Review” report. The retailer made an estimated $4.5 billion, just in U.S. toys sales, last year.

As the first holiday shopping season without Toys R Us and its hallmark holiday toy catalog, the “Big Book,” approaches, Amazon has plans of its own. The retailer is rumored to be printing and distributing a toy catalog in advance of the holiday shopping season, Bloomberg reported.

Also See: Retailers That Closed the Most Stores in 2017

Target’s presence in the toy and baby game looms large and is poised to rake in more than $600 million in additional sales as a result of Toys R Us’ collapse. The retailer possesses an almost cult-like following among parents and with good reason. It’s a fan favorite among expecting parents for its attractive baby registry offers like a free welcome kit filled with over $100 worth of coupons and goodies like product samples and a price-match guarantee. In partnership with Waste Management, Target hosts a wildly popular car seat trade-in program where parents can trade in car seats for a coupon for 20 percent off the purchase of a new car seat, booster seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller from Target stores or online. Target has collected 176,000 car seats and recycled them into new products.

When expecting parents learned about Babies R Us’ impending collapse earlier this year, they were left directionless and with unfulfilled baby registries. Enter Buy Buy Baby, the closest thing to a direct competitor of Babies R Us, which was expected to capture 10 percent of Babies R Us’ sales, Bloomberg reported in March 2018.

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In direct competition with Amazon, Walmart now wants to be the ultimate online destination for parents in need of baby items. The retailer has added 30,000 additional items, including on-trend nursery items, to its online baby merchandise in the past year. Concurrently, searches for baby-related items on Walmart’s website have jumped roughly 40 percent, a Walmart spokeswoman told CNBC. With the spike in searches, Walmart recently revamped the look and feel of the landing page for the baby section of its website.

Although the public mourned the loss of Toys R Us and rival retailers are chomping at the bit to capitalize on the retailer’s bankruptcy, rumblings and rumors on efforts to save and resurrect the iconic chain circulated when the bankruptcy was announced. It was reported in June that the chain’s former CEO was in talks with investors to try to stage a comeback.

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