Amazon boxes are stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Picture: REUTERS
Amazon boxes are stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Picture: REUTERS

New York — Online retailer is making a bid to win the business up for grabs after the demise of Toys "R" Us.

The online giant is going conventional, with plans to publish a holiday toy catalogue, according to people with knowledge of the retailer’s strategy.

The printed guide will be mailed to millions of US households and handed out at Whole Foods Market locations, the grocery chain Amazon bought in 2017, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plan is not public.

The move is part of Amazon’s push to incorporate traditional retailers’ tools into its business model.

It even looked at acquiring some Toys "R" Us locations earlier in 2018, according to sources at the time. That came after its $13.7bn purchase of Whole Foods made a big splash as it pushed into brick-and-mortar retailing.

A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment.

For all its woes, Toys "R" Us, which is closing all US stores after failing to emerge from bankruptcy, was still a force during Christmas. Its "Big Book" toy catalogue was a staple at 100 pages or so, with toy makers often starting their holiday advertising to co-ordinate with its arrival in late October.

Kids still enjoy searching through toy catalogues, which Walmart and Target also produce, to make their wishlists.

Toys "R" Us generated $6.5bn in US sales last year. That has pushed many retailers — even ones not known for toys — to angle for a piece of the defunct chain’s business.

Target said in May that it was bolstering its assortment as Toys "R" Us liquidated. Target said it was also expanding shelf space for toys for the coming holiday season and doing in-store events with big brands.

Amazon has become a toy-shopping destination in its own right. Toys, especially during the holidays, draw shoppers.

In 2007, the company copied traditional retailers and published an online hot-holiday toy list that featured playthings expected to be in demand.

It has been gaining market share in the category ever since, and now it is taking another page from legacy chains.