Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Toy Store Chain Toys "R" Us Joins the Store-Within-A-Store Mini Grocery Trend; Now Has New "R" Market 'Grocery Stores' in Over 260 Toys "R" Us Stores

Retail Trends Report: Alternative-Format Retailers, Food & Grocery Sales, Store-Within-A-Store Limited Assortment Mini-Markets

In this April 15, 2009 piece [Family Dollar Discount Store Chain Increasing Amount of Store Square Footage Devoted to Merchandising Food-Grocery Items in Stores Beginning in May] about the Family Dollar dollar store chain and other alternate format retailers involved in selling food and grocery items, we mentioned an April 3, 2009 story in the food industry publication Natural~Specialty Foods Memo about toy store chain Toys "R" Us testing store-within-a-store mini-grocery sections named "R" Market in a handful of its Chicago, Illinois-area toy superstores. (See the photograph of the in-store "R" Market at top.)

[This is the original story from Natural~Specialty Foods Memo: [April 3, 2009: Retail Memo - Alternate Formats: Toys 'R' Us Testing Store-Within-Store 'R Market' Grocery Departments in Three Chicago-Area Toys 'R' Us Toy Stores.]

On April 28, 2009, Toys "R" Us confirmed that April 3 report published in Natural~Specialty Foods Memo, saying in a statement that it has opened what it calls "R" Market grocery sections in over 260 of its 585 Toys "R" us banner toy superstores in the U.S. A few of the "R" Market grocery sections are located in Toys "R" Us toy stores in California and Arizona, where Tesco has all but about 30 of its 120 Fresh & Easy grocery and fresh foods markets. The other regional market for Fresh & Easy is southern Nevada.

Toys "R" Us, Inc. operates more than 1,500 stores, including 847 Toys "R" Us (565 units) and Babies "R" Us (282 units) stores in the U.S., along with more than 700 international stores in 32 countries, which includes licensed and franchise stores. It also sells toys and related products via its Web site.

The "R" Market store-within-a-store grocery sections contain a mix of about 1,300 SKUs in the consumables and related non-foods packaged goods categories, according to Toys "R" Us.

Among the product categories (and merchandising themes) included in the "R" Market grocery store-within-the-Toys 'R" Us-toy-superstores are, according to and as described by the retailer:

>Light Snacks, Breakfast Foods and Drinks: Parents looking to fill lunchboxes or refuel while on-the-go will delight in the "R" Market assortment of snacks, including chips, puffs and pretzels, cookies and crackers, fruit snacks, cereals and nutrition bars from favorite brand names, as well as a variety of healthy munchies such as squeezable fruit and apple sauce."R" Market also features a variety of juice boxes, kid-sized nonperishable milks and other soda alternatives perfect for snack time. In addition, mom and dad can stock up and save on bulk packages of bottled water in regular and fun-sizes for kids.

>Paper Goods: From hosting birthday parties to wiping up minor spills, customers will find a broad assortment of disposable paper goods available in "R" Market, including napkins, paper towels and toilet paper. Paper towels and toilet paper are also offered in bulk packages at value prices.

>Cleaning Supplies and Laundry Detergent: Whether tidying up the house or mopping up after a messy play date, shoppers can find the supplies they need to make their homes sparkle in "R" Market. A selection of laundry detergents and fabric softeners from popular brands is also available, along with kid-friendly versions of stain removing wipes.

>Expanded Assortment of Essentials for Little Ones: Parents can now find an even larger assortment of basics for baby at Toys"R" Us. The "R" Market collection features a variety of diapers, wipes and changing products from favorite brands, including Pampers, Huggies, Seventh Generation and Earth's Best in one convenient location upon entry. Baby food and infant formula from Gerber, Earth's Best Organic, Similac, Enfamil and Nestle Good Start are also showcased in this unique assortment, which includes nutritional items for infants, as well as tasty snacks for toddlers and preschool-aged children.

>Health and Beauty Aids: From humidifiers to hand soap, this expanded collection of health and bath essentials includes first aid and wellness products to keep kids looking and feeling good.

>Sweet Treats: In the dedicated candy section within "R" Market, customers can browse through a world of chocolate, lollipops, cotton candy, mints, and sour and hard candies. Additional treats include animal crackers, popcorn tins, giant candy bars and a wall of theater candy boxes. Toys "R" Us has also added novelty items, including marshmallow blasters, gumball machines and PEZ dispensers to make indulging in candy even more fun. Unique candy playthings, including spinning lollipops, candy necklaces and other character-themed candies can also be found in this aisle.

>Together Time in the Kitchen: For families hoping for homemade treats, "R" Market also offers an assortment of pizza kits and baking mixes to make cooking a cinch. Kid-Focused Consumables: Making lunchtime more enjoyable is simple with the "R" Market assortment of unique fizz beverages and fruit juices featuring favorite characters, and plentiful mixes of Sesame Street organic munchies from the makers of Earth's Best Organic.

>Making Bath Time Fun: With cool products such as motorized toothbrushes, bathtub crayons and paint from brands like Crayola, playtime doesn't have to stop when kids jump in the tub.

{You can read the April 28, 2009 statement from Toys "R" Us about the new "R" Market grocery sections here.]

The "R" Market product mix contains only shelf-stable items. Their are no perishables.

The "R" Market store-within-a-store grocery sections are clearly set-off as a separate area within the Toys "R" Us toy stores, as you can see in the photograph at the top of this story. They have the look of a mini-grocery store inside the toy store, being set-off with colorful graphics designed to create an individual identity for the "R" market grocery section.

The "R" Market Strategy

The retailer's strategy behind the in-store grocery sections is to increase same store sales by offering the 1,300 consumable and related "essential" grocery and non-foods items in "R' Market, along with hoping to encourage shoppers to make more frequent trips to the Toys "R" Us stores now that they offer the grocery and related item selection.

The strategy is particularly motivated by the current economic recession. However it's a strategy that has utility even in good economic times as it offers the retailer the opportunity to gain incremental sales from customers as they pick up the grocery and non-foods packaged goods items while shopping in the store for destination-oriented items like toys and board games.

The grocery items might serve as impulse items for both kids and adults shopping the toy stores. That's what Toys "R" Us is hoping at least, as they are marketing the "R" Market in-store concept as being designed to create greater convenience for customers.

Alternate-formats and food & groceries: A growing trend

In this story from yesterday [May 11, 2009: Target on Tap to Put Mini-Grocery and Fresh Foods Markets Into 100 Target Discount Stores This Year; Many More Likely to Come in 2010] Fresh & Easy Buzz reported on and wrote about Target Corp.'s plans to put its new store-within-a-store mini-grocery and fresh foods markets in 100 of its Target discount format stores by the end of this year, with many more likely to come in 2010.

Like Target, Toys "R" Us is looking for a way to adapt its stores to the current consumer reality, which is finding an increasing number of shoppers focusing primarily on purchasing essential food, grocery and non-foods packaged goods items, while decreasing purchases of non-essential goods. This recession-induced "new frugality" of course comes at the expense of consumer purchases on items like toys, furniture, clothing and the like -- the type of items retailer's like Toys "R" Us and Target have historically focused on.

And like Target's in-store grocery and fresh foods mini-market development, the fact that Toys "R" Us has added the 1,300 SKU "R" Market grocery sections to over 260 of its U.S. stores thus far -- and it plans to add the sections to additional toy stores -- means another significant increase to the overall number of square-footage devoted to the retailing of food, grocery and non-foods packaged goods items in the U.S.

'Share of stomach' and 'share of pantry'

More such food and grocery square-footage -- particularly from alternate-format retailers like dollar stores, discount stores and even now toy stores -- added in the U.S. means greater competition for retailers that put a primary focus on retailing food, grocery and non-foods packaged goods items, such as supermarkets, mass merchandisers and other format grocers.

There's only so much "share of stomach" and "share of pantry" after all.

For example, if on a typical Saturday shopping outing, Mrs. consumer picks up laundry detergent, Pampers, hair shampoo and candy at Toys "R" Us while shopping for a board game for her kids, then while in a nearby Dollar General store she picks up $25 worth of canned and packaged food items, followed by a trip to a Target discount store, where along with buying a new pair of shoes for junior, she grabs a bunch of fresh produce, milk, eggs and butter in the in-store grocery and fresh foods mini-market, these are all items she won't purchase at the supermarket, which just happens to be her last stop on this typical Saturday shopping outing.

There's a growing trend among alternate-format retailers -- drug chains like Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid; home stores like Home Depot and Lowe's; office stores like Staples and Office Depot; 99-Cent and Dollar format stores; and general merchandise discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target and KMart, among others; and now even Toys "R" Us -- to offer limited assortments of consumables and non-foods packaged goods items for sale in their respective stores and formats.

These alternate-format retailers tend to pick-off item sales from supermarkets and other format retailers that focus on selling food and groceries, making it more difficult for grocers to maintain and increase the average market basket purchase size shoppers make in their stores, for the reason described in the "typical shopping outing" example we offered above. Average market basket refers to the total dollar amount a customer spends during his or her shopping trip to a store.

If a consumer can buy milk, eggs and other essentials at a drug store or discount store, get cleaning supplies at Home Depot or Toys "R" Us and the like, the convenience of such opportunity adds to the overall competition for supermarkets.

Not only are grocers increasingly competing with each other -- which is a rather competitive activity in and of itself -- but they also are competing against a myriad of alternate-format retailers offering various limited assortments of food, grocery and non-foods items in their stores. And that level of competition is increasing for grocers as more and more alternate-format retailers add food and grocery items to their stores and promote the items aggressively.

Attack of the alternative-formats': A growing trend

It's our analysis that this trend of alternate-format retailers adding limited food and grocery item assortments -- along with existing retailers like Dollar format stores and others increasing the assortments of consumables and non-foods items they merchandise -- will continue to grow in the U.S.

For example, as we've reported, the Walgreens' drug chain has embarked on a program in which it's significantly increasing the number of consumable and essential non-foods packaged goods items it offers in its drug stores throughout the U.S., including in California, Nevada and Arizona, the three Western U.S. states where Tesco's Fresh & Easy operates its current 120 small-format combination grocery and fresh foods markets.

Walgreens has increased its promotional advertising of consumable and non-foods packaged goods as well. The first two or three pages of its multi-page weekly advertising circular looks these days more like a supermarket promotional piece than it does a traditional drug chain ad circular, for example.

A number of dollar store format chains are also adding a significant number of new food and grocery SKUs to their overall item merchandising mix as well, including Dollar General, Dollar Tree and the 99-Cents Only chain,which is based in Southern California. The 99-Cents Only chain even offers perishables, including fresh produce and meats, in a number of its stores.

Long gone are the days when U.S. grocers only had to worry about competing against other grocers.

Instead, competitive strategy today must include keeping an eye out for alternate format retailers that want a share of shoppers' dollars in the food, grocery and non-foods packaged goods categories, and often use food and grocery items as promotional loss leaders designed to get customers in the door in the hope they will then purchase other items sold in the stores.

Doing so is part of the brave new world of food and grocery retailing in the U.S. We even have a suggested title for the movie version: "The attack of the Alternative-formats'."

Related Stories From Fresh & Easy Buzz:

>May 11, 2009: Target on Tap to Put Mini-Grocery and Fresh Foods Markets Into 100 Target Discount Stores This Year; Many More Likely to Come in 2010

>April 15, 2009: Family Dollar Discount Store Chain Increasing Amount of Store Square Footage Devoted to Merchandising Food-Grocery Items in Stores Beginning in May

>March 2, 2009: Walgreens Promotes Former Tesco Fresh & Easy Exec Bryan Pough to VP Merchandising Position; Move Fits Drug Chain's Current Strategic Focus

>January 22, 2009: Neighbors by Location Only: Will Mega-Drug Chain Walgreens' New Focus on Consumables and 'Affordable Essentials' Rob Sales From Tesco's Fresh & Easy?

>December 22, 2008: Breaking News: Mega-Drug Chain Walgreens Hires Former Tesco Fresh & Easy USA VP of Operations Brian Pugh For New VP of Format Development Position

>April 18, 2009: Competitor News: Wal-Mart Close to Clearing First Major Hurdle For its 1.1 Million Square-Foot Regional Distribution Center in Merced, California

>September 15, 2008: Wal-Mart Expanding its Discount Store-to-Supercenter Conversion Program As Part of its Strategy to Grab Even More Food and Grocery Sales Market Share

>December 29, 2008: Competitor News: Winco Foods to Expand in California and Nevada in 2009; Put Aggressive Focus on Central Valley, Northern California and Northern Nevada

>December 16, 2008: Food & Grocery Retailing in the Recession: Bashas Broadening the Shopper-Base in its Hispanic Format Food City Stores; Shoppers Search for Value

>January 21, 2009: Breaking News: New-Wave, Hybrid Food-Grocery-Convenience Store 'Locali Conscious Convenience' to Open Tomorrow in Hollywood, California

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[Photo Credit: Toys "R" Us, Inc.]

1 comment:

Thomas Galvin said...

Amazing. I never would have thought Toys "R" Us would try to sell food.

It makes sense, kinda. Toys are a discretionary item, whereas people will always need to buy food.