Star Wars is going to take over holiday shopping

September 13 23:57 2015

Sorry Elsa, but Chewie, Yoda and the gang are back and taking over the holiday shopping season. With the Dec. 18 movie release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, some retailers stand to gain a fourth-quarter sales uptick as they make a major marketing investment and dedicate significant floor space to new toys, apparel, games and even home decor tied to the movie. In a knock to the children’s holiday favorite of recent years, Walmart is “planning it bigger than Frozen,” says Anne Marie Kehoe, the company’s vice president of toys.

Last week’s Force Friday events, where new Star Wars products were revealed to much fanfare at midnight store openings, were only round one. With more toys expected to come out in the next few months, retailers are gearing up for a holiday season fueled in part by the rebirth of one of the most popular franchises in history. “This is going to be a blockbuster merchandise event,” says Joel Bines, managing director in the retail practice at consulting firm AlixPartners. “You will not be able to avoid Star Wars merchandise. It will be impossible this holiday season.”

And compared with the Star Wars merchandise of years past, technology and increased competition among toymakers have upped the game. There are customizable lightsabers, an interactive talking Yoda doll, a BB-8 toy droid and bigger action figures that have lights, sound and movement. For the toy industry, which does 70% of its sales in the last two months of the year, the new Star Wars movie is a big deal, says Jim Silver, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of TTPM, a website that reviews kids’ products.

Starting with Force Friday, Toys R Us has indefinitely dedicated twice as much floor space as normal to Star Wars merchandise, anticipating additional product rollouts as more movies make their way to theaters in the coming years. Walmart has another round of events planned for the weekend of Nov. 15, driving customers into stores for potential holiday shopping two weeks before Black Friday.