Toys R Us Inc., which debuted a temporary holiday store concept last year, announced Thursday that it would operate 600 pop-up stores nationwide this Christmas season, more than six times as many as last year.
The aggressive expansion of the Toys R Us Express stores will mean about 70 pop-up stores in California, of which more than 40 will be in the Los Angeles area, Chief Executive Jerry Storch said in an interview.
“It’s no secret that there’s an economic downturn out there, so these are periods when it’s more important than ever to be aggressive in business,” he said. “One of our objectives is to grow the toy business as a whole.... We believe the toy industry can and will grow.”
The addition of 600 temporary stores, which each are roughly 4,000 square feet in size, will more than double the number of Toys R Us stores in the U.S. The company operates 587 full-size Toys R Us stores nationwide plus about 260 Babies R Us stores.
Toys R Us said it expected to hire about 10,000 associates to staff the Express stores in addition to the company’s traditional expanded holiday workforce at its other locations.
Some of the pop-up shops have already opened in Southern California, including at Los Cerritos Center, the Shops at Montebello and Laguna Hills Mall.
Storch said more pop-up stores might be added throughout the season and “depending on performance and availability,” some stores may remain open permanently.
The privately held company also announced that it had converted four of last year’s Express shops, including the one at the Citadel Outlets, to permanent Toys R Us outlet locations. It also has opened or is in the process of opening four additional outlet stores.
The outlet stores feature a wide selection of “value-oriented” products unique to those locations as well as an edited assortment of items available in its full-size stores, Storch said.
Last year, the Wayne, N.J.-based toy seller opened nearly 90 pop-up shops for the holidays.