It’s likely there are few Millenials out there that don’t have at least one joyfully nostalgic memory of running through the aisles of a Toys ‘R’ Us at some point in the 90s, submerged by stacks upon stacks of toys, action figures, games, puzzles, and everything else an overwhelmed child’s mind could imagine. 

But the 90s were a different time, and as the decade passed, so did the allure of the enormous toy store, which ultimately collapsed in bankruptcy in 2017.

However, over the last few years, Toys ‘R’ Us has restructured, reorganized, and is attempting to make a resurgence with a newly-announced partnership with Macy’s to provide over 400 Toys ‘R’ Us mini-stores within Macy’s locations starting in 2022. And Toys ‘R’ Us is making it no secret that they hope to capitalize on brand nostalgia for Millennials now shopping for their own children. 

CivicScience data show that this might not be a bad strategy, as more than half of the Gen Pop reports at least some likelihood to shop at a store simply due to nostalgic feelings for its brand (perhaps Blockbuster still has potential for a comeback). 

And Toys ‘R’ Us may be on to something here, because this trend isn’t just specific to the Gen Pop. Adults under 55 are likely to shop for nostalgia’s sake, a sentiment that increases as age decreases. 

While this data looks good for Toys ‘R’ Us’ comeback plan, looking more specifically at the stores-within-stores concept, we see a tougher uphill challenge for the company.

More than half the Gen Pop is not at all likely to shop at a mini-store inside of a Macy’s once it is brought to their area. 

While more popular among younger shoppers, household income level has nearly no effect on whether a person is more or less likely to get toys from the Macy’s pop-up toy stores.

The bigger trend at play, however, isn’t so much who is interested in shopping at Macy’s or Toys ‘R’ Us, but whether people like shopping at malls and department stores in the first place. 

As the data show, shoppers who already have a favorable view of shopping at large department stores over-index in likelihood to shop at Toys ‘R’ Us mini-stores in Macy’s.

But when it comes to toy shopping specifically, only about 4% of the Gen Pop are likely to make a trip to their local shopping mall. 

And when we compare that data against shopping trends at department stores, we see that no matter how favorable a customer’s experience is at a Macy’s or relative competitor, people are just significantly more likely to do their toy shopping with Amazon or a big-box retailer like Target or Walmart. Despite favorability for department stores, the data indicate that never more than 7% of consumers are likely to do their toy shopping there. 

This, of course, could be linked to the larger trend of shopping malls and department stores becoming less and less popular. JCPenney’s, for instance, just survived a bankruptcy spiral,  while some malls have been abandoned entirely.

It turns out that people simply don’t go to malls anymore.

The good news, however, for Macy’s and Toys ‘R’ Us, is that younger people report a higher frequency of mall shopping than do older respondents. 

Perhaps there is a perfect storm of young, mall-shopping, nostalgia-driven consumers brewing for Toys ‘R’ Us. CivicScience will continue to keep an eye on consumers’ nostalgic sentiment as the holiday season approaches.