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Bare shelves

aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
edited December 2011 in Everything else LEGO
Has anyone else experienced a lot of bare shelves when searching your BIG BOX stores, or even your local stores?

This past weekend I was in many different retailers and found that LEGO is at a premium in most stores. I was both disappointed and happy to find this. It means that many are finding that LEGO is the 'go to' toy for Christmas - it also means that we will see a lot less discounted items after Christmas.

Too bad for me as I had always found great sets at deeply discounted prices after Christmas - a time that I loaded up on LEGO for the following year's Bdays and next year's Christmas.

What have you found?


  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    My local stores (Minneapolis, MN) seem well-stocked.

    TRU is relatively hit-or-miss, I would suspect largely due to their near-constant BOGO50 sales.

    I'm interested to see how the stores look after this weekend. Saturday is likely to be the biggest shopping day of the year...

    I am quite surprised how out of stock some websites are, especially That could definitely drive some traffic into Target stores this weekend.

  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159

    Well, I live on the far western reaches of the Twin Cities. We are obviously hitting different stores. I frequent Buffalo, Monticello, and Saint Cloud (sometimes Hutchinson). Where and what stores are you finding these at?

    My local Targets, Walmarts, and Fleet Farm have very limited supply - and what they do have in stock seems to be sparse in the varied stock (no new releases).
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    In South Florida, the Targets are well stocked, even after the City BOGO50% sale last week. TRUs have plenty of product only one or two items were actually missing, that I remember, but everything else stocked. The only place I saw huge blanks on the shelves are at the Ninjago sections at Wal-Marts, since these have the single figures packs for $6.88 each, and people are buying loads of these. Last year at the same time, Target was almost sold out on LEGO, and the LEGO aisle turned into a clearance aisle in one of the nearest stores.
  • romdamromdam Member Posts: 136
    Walmart here was pretty bare of City sets. Last year was worse. They were empty from about this time until feb. And I mean empty.
  • brickupdatebrickupdate Member Posts: 1,020
    By me, the Targets took a hit from their most recent sale, but still have a good amount of LEGO to offer. Toys R Us has tons of LEGO and keeps restocking. The Wal-Mart near me has a small LEGO section, and this time of year, that means empty shelves. I don't even bother going there until the after-Christmas sale.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    @aplbomr79 - I live in the Blaine area. I go to the Maple Grove, Blaine, or Maplewood TRUs, and pretty much all of the Targets in the north metro. I haven't been to Fleet Farm this year as they haven't been promotional on LEGO like last year.

    Targets in my area have new Ninjago but that's it. The TRUs have most all the 2012 sets except Superheroes.

    Walmart never has much for "new" LEGO until well after Christmas.

  • The_Brick_BuilderThe_Brick_Builder Member Posts: 658
    @romdam My Walmart was also bare with City sets. Only had the Airport, Fire Station, and Harbor.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    @aplbomr79 - I have a little update - I just went to the Blaine, MN TRU, and while the shelves looked full, there was a TON of duplication. For example, the Creator line was essentially all out-of-stock, spare for some smaller $20 sets. The Log Cabin, Lighthouse, etc. all gone. In its place were World Racers and Pharaoh's Quest sets.

    I think this most recent BOGO50 sale has hit stock pretty hard, since this particular store was relatively well-stocked as recently as Monday.

  • StuBoyStuBoy Member Posts: 623
    In New Zealand most stores are pretty well stocked, and there have been a few 20-30% off sales recently. Possibly they're not moving as many of the bigger sets and one major retailer has had discounts on all the big City ones over the last few weeks.
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    I've seen some space reduction of the Lego aisles at some of the Targets, one I frequent now has the leftovers of the megablocks run mixed into the the two runs that were previously all Lego. So that means there's been a fair amount of consolidation to scrunch three 24 foot runs into 2 such amounts of space. Some of the Pharaoh's sets were completely gone, suspect some of the city sets are as well, but I don't track those too closely beyond a quick 'are they cheap enough to NOT ignore?' type check. They also pulled all the display cases, like 4 maybe 5 different ones, don't recall offhand. I also noticed that the CMF sidecap was gone without a trace as well.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    I hit up a Target today and had many of the same observations. One of the 24 foot sections that was devoted to City, Cars, and Pharaohs Quest is now being used for general toy (non-LEGO) Clearance. The Cars sets have been integrated into another section, But City and PQ are essentially gone.

    This store had one box of CMFs on a clearance endcap but they were not on clearance.

  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    I've seen them in the past scrunch aisles down to make room for 'other' (read 'Lesser') toys usually on clearance as Christmas approaches, in the distant past it was right on or even after Christmas but the last few years the timetable has pushed to before said time frame. Basically they're starting their 'Get everything possible out on the shelves, NOW' routine already.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,760
    I think it means people are buying more than Companies intended OR companies are purposely not making a lot of stocks on toys to ensure they do not get stuck with a large amount to clear out discounted if they do not sell before Christmas.
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    There are always going to be 'misses' in what the companies stock and can sell @ full price and with the way the economy has been yes most retailers are managing stock levels more carefully. But the timing of when they start to try and clear out the 'losers' err 'misses' has also changed was part of my point. The only Lego set i saw was an Atlantis set @15% off didn't bother to remember the number, the RRP was $47.99 or $49.99 if you want to try guessing at the number. It was located in the run that had been cleared of the Megablocks and Other building sets, the rest of the now clearance run was pretty much 'trash' toys in my opinion that even @75% off I wouldn't buy my nephews (but a lot of things fall into that category I'm afraid). To me it's a symptom of the what I think of as 'Seasonal Creep' as in how it seem like right after Back to School you start seeing Christmas stuff start appearing, etc.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Administrator, Moderator Posts: 5,234
    Unfortunately, bare shelves seem to be the norm these days for big box stores just before Xmas. Its really disappointing. I dont know whether they're intentionally not replenishing so as to move the less popular sets or if they're just literally whittling down stock in preparation for their January Inventory. The sad thing is that the shelves will likely remain bare deep into January.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    These retailers are sooo highly competitive right now that they can't afford to be left with a ton of stock after Christmas that they have to discount. They are trying to walk a tight rope between having enough inventory to keep sales strong while making sure that the bottom line is even stronger. I think they have a general thought that they would rather lose a sale (or, nowadays shift that sale to their online channel) than lose money on an item.

    Walmart has been doing this for years - shrinking inventories while still increasing sales and profits even more than sales. Target has been getting into this frame of mind for the last 2-3 years.

    This is part of the reason why you generally see less clearance at Walmart too.

  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas Member Posts: 8,404
    For what it is worth Brent, I agree with you completely...

    People who have never carried inventory don't appreciated how expensive the carrying cost really is, capital is not unlimited and using borrowed money is always risky.

    Can Walmart borrow an "unlimited" amount of money to carry inventory? For all practical purposes, yes. They could probably borrow $100 Billion tomorrow if they really wanted to, but the interest charge on that, even as low as it would be, just a few basis points above US Treasuries, affects the bottom line. At some point the additional sales are not worth it.
  • brickupdatebrickupdate Member Posts: 1,020
    I stopped by TRU and LEGO Store, and grabbed some shots of the empty shelves. Toys R Us was clearly picked over, but there were still a couple good sets on the shelves. At LEGO Store, a lot of retiring sets I was hoping to see were long gone.

    20+ images here:

  • LegoboyLegoboy Member Posts: 8,825
    Great pics - thank you for sharing them.

    Have never seen a TRU shelf looking like that, but then I haven't been to a TRU in the US. :o)
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas Member Posts: 8,404
    @brickupdate - they had Battle of Endor at your Lego store? Did you get them all? ;)
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva Member Posts: 542
    Mostly bare at TRU, Walmart, and Target in my area also. The Target went from two full sides of an aisle to 1/2 of one side of the aisle!
  • gmpirategmpirate Member Posts: 1,654
    Socal: Targets are very bare except for City, Pharaoh, Atlantis and stuff like that. My closest Wallmart actually reduced their Lego this year -- never even had PoTC or Harry Potter. All my Lego stores, while noticeably depleted, still have a lot of the soon to be retired sets -- EN, IF, DS, Endor, FB, Tantive, etc.

    On a side note, I really hope they have decent pick-a-bricks after Christmas. Right now they do but in past years its been nothing but crap pieces :/
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    Since we're talking about Target on this thread, I thought I'd give a heads up about the gift cards, which seemed to reappear/fresh shipment (at least in west-central MN) around Wed, Dec 14th.

    If anyone is looking for the Target Lego gift card, make sure you ask an employee. I was just at the Willmar, MN, store yesterday and could not find this card. A staff member was busy restocking other gift cards, so I asked about the Lego one. She thought a few were on the floor, so I went to look. Empty in that location.

    She said no problem, asked how many I wanted, and brought them out of the back room. She had not restocked them yet, but they had 80 in the back room (20 per box). Might be that stores are conserving employee hours for Thurs/Frid/Sat rush?!?!

  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Member Posts: 3,639
    @krklint you're right. I picked up 7 this week from my local Target in SoCal, after them disappearing for a couple weeks after Thanksgiving.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    yes, and I now understand why Target offers these cards... for me, it has taken me into the store an excessive number of times this holiday season... and I also now have a large number of gift cards to use in the future. Guess I know where most of my shopping is going to occur in Jan and Feb.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    Target definitely had more of these cards made this year. Last year, I only saw them one time. This year, I see them every time I shop. lol

    My local TRU's shelves are EMPTY. About the same, maybe a little bit worse than @brickupdate 's store.

    My LEGO store is in similar condition. Well-stocked, not a ton of repeats, but most of the "probably after-Christmas sale" items are gone.

    I haven't seen LEGO disappear off store shelves like this ever before.

  • momof2boys99momof2boys99 Member Posts: 322
    I shopped at Target and Walmart yesterday. I did not purchase any Lego...but the shelves were well stocked. I am in the Chicagoland area.
  • sidersddsidersdd Member Posts: 2,432
    One Target I visited had pretty bare shelves, except for 30 Scorpion Pyramids which were on "clearance" for $85. I'm hoping those drop to 50% off or more after Xmas.
  • momof2boys99momof2boys99 Member Posts: 322
    The Target I was at had the Pyramids too. They also had Ninja Go and Atlantis on clearance. They had alot of stock to move. I just picked up Barbies for my nieces. :O)
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas Member Posts: 8,404
    I haven't seen LEGO disappear off store shelves like this ever before.

    Hmm, is this because average parents have woken up to Lego, is it because the quality of the sets continues to improve, or is it because nuts like myself are buying them by the truck load to "invest" in?

    If parents are buying 95% of them, no problem, but if that number swings towards people like me, it could be a sign of a bubble...
  • Ma1234Ma1234 Member Posts: 693
    LEGO Store today was packed full of everything - Imperial Flagships, Kingdoms, Harry Potter, trains, even Emerald Night. And this is at an upscale mall in a very high income area.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas Member Posts: 8,404
    And I assume you bought all the IF and EN they had? :) If not, shame on you, where is this store?
  • sidersddsidersdd Member Posts: 2,432
    ^ LOL
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    edited December 2011
    @LegoFanTexas - I can't be sure on the percentages, but when I'm in the store, it appears to be majorly parents and kids. I haven't seen many adults filling carts of the same set, etc.

  • 12651265 Member Posts: 1,144
    @Ma1234 - Please don't mention where the store is to LFT.....he fly out and buy out the entire inventory........,"people who share and are nice end up at the bottom of the food chain." :)
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas Member Posts: 8,404
    Now, now... I would not fly there...

    Much easier to just call the store and place a phone order...

    Er, did I say that out loud just now? :)
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    Dropped by TRU today and indeed sets are flying off the shelf. Not completely cleared out, but many sets that were available a few days ago are nowhere to be found now.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    I honestly think it is the ecomomy in Europe and the U.S. When people do not have money, they stay home and "discover" entertainment. Sure, some reseller speculation is pushing sales, but I've talked to so many people who are now "staying" home due to budget crunch... and they tell me that Lego is one of their favorite toys to buy for their kids. Also, those of us who were in the first wave of minifigs back in 1978-84 are wanting our children to enjoy the same toys... and they are :)

    So empty shelves in the Lego aisle... I actually expect it. I walk through the other aisles, and I am not seeing the empty shelf phenomenon. It is good for all involved when the food chain is healthy and supports new appetites :)

    Now my big question, will Lego finally show up at Garage/Yard sales in the next few years?
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    edited December 2011
    I was in both a TRU and a Target today, they both were heavily picked over. The TRU had aisles that were half empty if not a bit more than that. The Target I was in wasn't much better but they'd condensed down the LEGO and some of the space more 'other' stuff. Target had a few sets @15% off only one I specifically recall was 7327, there were a couple of larger Atlantis sets and a couple of Cars sets.

    As for garage/yard sale LEGO, it's always been there, most of the LEGO from my youth was garage sale finds... Not as many folks DO garage/yard sales anymore...
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    @BeardedCastleGuy, I'm a bit jealous, finding Lego at Garage Sales. Only once have I found Lego at a garage sale - but it was all sets still on the shelves; and G/Y sales are everywhere in Minnesota and North Dakota (my two major areas of residency) during the summer months (all two of them... brrr) ... and now that winter arrived, I find quite a few of them in Miami. Though, to be honest, I've only been in Miami for a few months, so I can't speak for the range of yard sales that area used to have.

    Visited both a K-Mart and a Target today, Lego shelves were empty empty... walked through the other toy aisles, fairly full at Target, but not at K-Mart. It was an odd odd feeling :(
  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
    It seems that many of us frequenting the big box stores were welcomed by these bare shelves. I was able to visit 2 Targets, 2 Walmarts, and a B&N today. There was nothing left to speak of. A few Ninjago Sets, a few City sets (Police and Astronaut), a handful of HP, and small load of SW. The 'LEGO Aisles' in these stores were populated by generic Building Blocks, Generic Barbie, Hot Wheels, etc.

    It seems the Big Box stores decided not to purchase a lot of LEGO this year... Hopefully they have learned their lesson.

    This is sad for us AFOLs looking for deals this year - but I am guessing the way that LEGO sold out so quickly, we will see an abundance next year as they try to balance out sales. People are interested in LEGO - and there was not enough to go around - so we may see some increase in LEGO next year... my fingers are crossed.
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