* US Walmart stores selling more than 100 toys at $10 each
* $10 offering includes new toys, price cuts of 20-50 pct
* Last year, its $10 toy offering sold out
By Nicole Maestri
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 30 This year, Wal-Mart
Stores Inc (WMT.N) is supersizing its $10 holiday toy
Last October, the world's biggest retailer cut its prices
and began selling 10 popular toys for $10 each in its U.S.
Walmart stores to win sales from early bargain hunting holiday
This year, the retailer has ramped up the program and is
offering more than 100 toys, including Barbie dolls and board
games, for $10 each, throughout the Christmas shopping season.
The $10 assortment includes newly introduced toys, such as
certain Transformers action figures and a Play-Doh burger
builder set, as well as existing items, such as Monopoly and
Connect 4, whose prices have been cut 20 percent to 50
"What we learned from last holiday was that price mattered
more than ever," said Laura Phillips, the retailer's vice
president of toys.
That is expected to be the case again this year as the
retailer surveyed shoppers and found the No. 1 priority
for mothers this holiday season is finding gifts that fit their
budget, Phillips said.
The year-end holiday season is a crucial one for U.S.
retailers and can account for 25 percent to 40 percent of
annual revenue. But last year's holiday season marked the worst
in nearly 40 years by some measures and early forecasts for the
2009 holiday season call for sales to be anywhere from up 2
percent to down 1 percent.
But Wal-Mart has been gaining market share amid the
recession as shoppers seek out low prices on everything from
food to paper towels to popular electronics.
Last year, Phillips said Wal-Mart sold out of its $10 toys
because it underestimated how early its shoppers were in its
stores, buying gifts for Christmas.
"About 70 percent of our Wal-Mart shoppers start their
holiday toy shopping before Halloween and, in fact, about 20
percent finish by Halloween," she said.
So Wal-Mart spent the past year working with toy makers,
such as Mattel Inc (MAT.O) and Hasbro Inc HAS.N to develop
new toys or cut prices on existing items so it could stock a
much wider selection of $10 offerings this year.
It said the $10 toy offering is the first of several
programs it will announce in the next 12 weeks leading up to
Christmas "to bring added savings" to shoppers.
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; editing by Andre Grenon)