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Christmas Miracles? Two Unlikely Comebacks

Is Santa Claus real? Bringing lots of toys to girls and boys certainly is certainly real, even if process is handled by marketers, manufacturers and retailers instead of a guy in a red suit.

And two recent comebacks — an long-time marketing tradition and a much-loved retailer — have sparked a bit of Christmas Miracle nostalgia.

The first comeback is the toy catalog. Amazon’s 2023 holiday toy catalog has no Santa on the cover, but you can’t help being transported back in time to the days of the iconic Sears toy catalog. Its arrival was a joyous occasion. We’d wear it out, circling everything we wanted from Santa. Every year, I saw the BB gun I wanted but my safety-conscious parents and Santa never granted that wish.

The Amazon toy catalog arrived the first week of October. When I first saw it, I wondered A paper catalogue in 2023 — what was Amazon thinking?”  But my visiting 5-year-old nephew spotted it in my hand and asked to see it. He sat on the porch and immediately went through it cover-to-cover a dozen times. “Oh, that’s what they were thinking.”

While it might seem that paper catalogues would be relegated to history with the advent of e-commerce, they can still be a helpful sales tool for retailers and toy makers. Most toy companies rely on November and December months for as much as 50% of their annual sales. So it makes sense for them to do whatever it takes to get out ahead of those months, grab attention and spark interest by anxious kids and their time-pressed parents.

Canada’s postal system makes a case for marketers that mail, and catalogs in particular, help retailers sell more. “…it helps your brand to get noticed. Consumers keep share it with others, creating multiple engagement opportunities. And the call-to-action drives customers to your e-commerce site or retail location.”


The second comeback was an announcement that Toys R” Us has opened stores in the U.S. and is planning more. IMO, this was one retailer that never should have gone out of business. While Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Kohls and others made the successful transition to doing business both online and in-stores, Toys R” Us was never able to fully navigate the change over.

The New York Times reports, “Toys R” Us opened the first store in 1957 and was once the worlds largest toy store chain. But in 2017, facing long-term debt totaling more than $5 billion, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Toys R” Us closed the last of its 735 U.S. stores by June 2018,”

Toys R” Us started a comeback in 2021, when it opened a 20,000 square feet flagship store at American Dream mall in New Jersey. After that, Toys R” Us launched 452 mini-shops inside Macys stores across the United States. More stand alone stores are coming as well as, locations in airports and even on cruise ships.

Many parents and children born after 1957 likely have fond memories of wandering giant Toys R” Us stores filled with everything from scooters to video games to dolls and action figures. Some may remember seeing Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys R” Us mascot.


The Amazon toy catalog and Toys “R” Us return may not qualify as true Christmas miracles, but you know what would? Coming downstairs Christmas morning and seeing a BB gun under the tree with my name on it. ##

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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