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Where Toys 'R' Us 'loyalists' are shopping now

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

The 2018 holiday shopping season started off with a record-setting Black Friday. And despite the recent pullback in stocks, retail experts are generally predicting a great December for shopping. The National Retail Federation forecasts overall U.S. holiday season spend to go up by 4.3% to 4.8%.

But it will be a holiday season without Toys ‘R’ Us, after the toy chain liquidated all 800 stores over the summer.

Foursquare, the location tech company, conducted a study of shoppers who visited Toys ‘R’ Us at least three times in 2017, labeling those “loyalist” shoppers. (28% of Toys ‘R’ Us shoppers overall are high loyalty.) Foursquare then looked at which stores those people visited in Q3 of this year, after the closure of Toys ‘R’ Us. (Foursquare pulls this data from its own app and partner apps.)

Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree see lift

Foursquare found that Walmart and Target picked up the largest share of Toys ‘R’ Us “loyalist” foot traffic: Walmart up 3.2% and Target up 2.5%. Dollar Tree and Walgreens also saw a bump.

Foursquare foot-traffic data. (Chart: Foursquare)

Of course, those findings are no surprise: Target and Walmart are the chains everyone knew would benefit in the absence of Toys ‘R’ Us. As Foursquare editor-at-large Sarah Spagnolo said on Yahoo Finance’s live Morning Meeting show, Target especially has been “doubling down on toys, no surprise.” And Isaac Larian, CEO of private toy-seller MGA Entertainment, said on Yahoo Finance’s Midday Movers live show last month, “I think Amazon and Target are going to really get a lion’s share of that business, because they’re poised to do so.”  

But one of the chains to benefit is a bit more of a surprise: GameStop.

A ‘meaningful increase’ for GameStop

An employee assists customers inside a GameStop Corp. store in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Thursday, March 15, 2018. GameStop Corp. is scheduled to release earnings figures on March 28. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

GameStop, the video game shop, saw a 0.4% bump in foot traffic from the Toys ‘R’ Us “loyalists” after the disappearance of Toys ‘R’ Us.

That figure may look small, but it’s double the share Foursquare had of Toys ‘R’ Us shoppers in the past. It’s a “meaningful increase,” Foursquare’s Spagnolo says, for a smaller company with a $1.38 billion market cap.

Spagnolo calls the GameStop bump “the surprising, most meaningful change” Foursquare saw in its study. And in a blog post, Foursquare calls GameStop the “underdog winner this holiday season.”

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance. He hosts the live show Morning Meeting and the podcast Sportsbook. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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