JC Penney Getting Back Into the Toy Business

Looking for another avenue to boost flat store sales, JC Penney is opening 500-square-foot toy shops in all of its brick-and-mortar locations, the company announced, pitting it against the likes of Toys R Us and Amazon as well as discount retailers like Walmart and Target in the $20 billion market.

Coming just in time for the critical back-to-school season, this follows on JC Penney’s move back into the appliance space in January 2016, going head-to-head with chains like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears and Best Buy. It was expanded to 500 stores in May 2016 after a successful pilot.

The toy shops will be located adjacent to the chain’s Disney collections and feature an assortment of dolls, action figures, racing cars, arts and crafts, board games, plush toys and learning sets from brands like Hasbro, Mattel, Playmobil and Fisher Price. It has also doubled its online assortment of toys over the last year, with plans to expand it further in time for the holiday season.

JC Penney brought back two toy brands last holiday season and saw enough response to justify the new expansion. The company sold toys in its Christmas catalog between 1963 and 2004. It is hoping to differentiate itself through a wider product assortment.

“We know that shoppers buy toys year-round and by creating a fun, inviting toy shop, with some of the biggest brands and hottest products, we will entice families to shop and spend more at JCPenney,” said John Tighe, executive vice president and chief merchant for JC Penney in a release. “Toys are an exciting product category for JCPenney and an in-store attraction that will drive traffic and sales as we continue to focus on increasing revenue per customer.”

You can read the news release here.