How to do your holiday shopping without Toys R Us

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

News article image

A trip to Toys R Us was a holiday tradition for many families. They'll have to go somewhere else now that the giant toy chain has gone out of business.

Luckily, there are plenty of other places where parents can get the toys their kids are pining for this holiday shopping season.

Where else to shop

Retailers are rushing to clear shelf space for toys, said Adrienne Appell, a spokeswoman for The Toy Association, a trade group. Giant department stores like Target and Walmart, online behemoths like Amazon and local toy stores aim to fill the void left by Toys R Us.

"There's really a ton of places for families to shop for toys this holiday season," Appell said.

Parents who want to talk to a knowledgeable staff member may want to visit a neighborhood shop to get their questions answered, while those who want to get their toy shopping done while picking up other gifts or groceries may want to try big department stores like Target and Walmart. Retailers like JCPenney and Kohl's are making space for toys as well, Appell said.

Amazon will, as usual, be among the biggest players in the toy market, said Trae Bodge, a shopping expert. Amazon, along with Best Buy, published physical "toy books" like the one Toys R Us used to put out, containing the hottest toys of 2018.

Party City is filling some of the physical space left by Toys R Us by opening 50 "Toy City" pop-up stores around the country. And eBay has always sold toys, but is emphasizing them more this year with a new "Toytopia" section.

Some retailers are partnering with toy makers to sell exclusive versions of popular toys. Walmart is selling an exclusive edition of the popular Hatchimals toy, Bodge said.

Stores will also have a lot of in-store events, Bodge said. She expects newly reopened FAO Schwarz to draw customers in this way and give them experiences they can't get online.

The downside is brick-and-mortar stores may not be able to dedicate the amount of space or variety as a big, toy-specific store like Toys R Us, Bodge said.

But while Toys R Us may have had an unbeatable selection, other retailers were winning on price, Appell said. (Policygenius can help you compare prices for life insurance.)

People might have been sad to see Toys R Us go, but many had moved on to places like Walmart where they can also shop for clothes and food, Bodge said.

"While this is a big change for parents and Toys R Us was an exciting and fun destination for people to shop for the holidays, it wasn't the only place people were shopping," she said.

How to save on toys

First, know what you're buying. Retailers' toy books can be a good guide. The Toy Association's Toy of the Year award winners are another place to start.

Parents should buy these "hot toys" as early as they can, Bodge said. They aren't likely to get big discounts and can sell out, forcing you to pay higher prices on secondary markets like eBay.

For more expensive toys, set alerts on coupon sites like Flipp or check price comparison sites like Google Shopping, Bodge said.

"That's a helpful way to save a little bit more without having to watch the site yourself every day," she said.

Parents may want to wait to buy a more generic toy like a bicycle. Some retailers offer deep discounts if they don't have a great Black Friday or Cyber Monday, so if the desired item isn't likely to sell out, parents may be able to score a deal closer to Christmas.

As the holidays get closer, be sure to check out these 50 things that can make your holidays more affordable.

Image: pixelfit