Toys to go? Toys R Us rolls out curbside pickup – USA TODAY

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A new augmented reality app will allow young Toys ‘R’ Us shoppers to unlock activities around the store.
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Need to buy a super hero doll super fast? Or pick up a new baby stroller without taking the baby out of the car? Toys R Us is offering drive-up pickup for online orders at 28 of its stores.

Toys R Us has joined the ranks of retailers ranging from supermarkets and drugstores to ritzy department stores offering curbside pickup. Curbside pickup is seen as the next must-have evolution of buy-online, pick up in store services that most brick and mortar retailers currently offer.

Target this month announced that it was testing curbside pickup at 50 stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, after ending a previous curbside pilot program that included stores in New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Walmart has rolled out curbside pickup for groceries to hundreds of its stores.

Upscale department store Nordstrom, along with the CVS drugstore chain, Sears and numerous supermarket chains also offer curbside pickup.

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The toy retailer that filed for bankruptcy protection this week plans to hire thousands of workers, including toy demonstrators, to staff its stores for the holidays.
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Toy R Us’ curbside pickup pilot was in the works long before the Wayne, N.J.-based toy retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in September. But since the bankruptcy, Toys R Us executives and its attorneys have promised creditors and the bankruptcy judge repeatedly that the company is working overtime to let customers shop when, where and how they want.

Curbside pickup could be a godsend for parents during the Christmas rush, and allow them to get toys on kids’ wish lists easily without dealing with crowd or lines in the stores, but it may come at a cost for Toys R Us, said Lauren Bitar, director of retail consulting for analytics firm RetailNext.

“If a retailer is going to invest in it they have to consider the tradeoff,” Bitar said. “There is that convenience for the shopper, but it does decrease your store traffic and takes away the ability to purchase impulse items and your supplementary items,” she said.

It also presents staffing challenges, particularly at the peak busy times during the holiday season, Bitar said.

Toy analyst Jim Silver, editor of TTPM, a leading toy review website, said he expects curbside pickup will be most beneficial for parents buying large items, such as Power Wheels ride-on vehicles, or strollers or car seats, that are bulky to carry out of the store,  and expensive to ship.

Curbside could come in handy “when you need a birthday present for that day,” Silver said.

In most instances, he said, online shoppers don’t need a toy immediately and are willing to wait for it to be delivered to their home.

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The bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us weakened Hasbro’s forecasts for the holiday season. But as Fred Katayama reports, the retailer released strong earnings.
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