While some toy companies have been giving up on long-held preconceptions about gender-specific products in recent years, we were curious how this was affecting retailers, so we checked out a few of the big chains. Here’s how the major stores sort their toy departments by gender so you can shop by your preference.
Target doesn’t use gender-based signs in its toy department online or in stores: In 2015, the company announced that it would no longer market anything to kids based on gender in its toy departments or in other sections like decor and bedding.
For example, in its online store, toys are sorted by age, brand, character, or divided into descriptive categories like “action figures & playsets,” “building sets & blocks,” “dolls,” and “games & puzzles.”
JCPenney recently announced new in-store toy shops offering a “significantly expanded assortment” of items. A spokesperson confirmed to Consumerist that these sections are organized by brand and age.
Online, toys can be sorted by age group, product type — indoor games, plush, pretend play, etc. — price range, character, brand, features, average rating, and deals & promotions.
Kmart & Sears
It’s unclear if Kmart and Sears — both owned by Sears Holdings — sort toys by gender in their physical stores: We asked the company whether it could share any policy regarding sorting toys by gender in both brick-and-mortar locations as well as online, and a spokesman said he had no further information to provide on the topic.
Consumerist called two separate Kmart stores in Cleveland and asked to speak with someone in the toy department, but we were transferred and sat on hold long enough for us to give up. But when we asked a store associate at a Dayton location if the toy department was organized by gender, we were told, “Honestly, we’re supposed to,” but with that store going through liquidation, “it’s hard to keep everything straight.”
We also tried calling a Sears store in Eau Claire, WI, but were told that location doesn’t have a toy department.
On Sears.com, there is a “Shop By Gender” option for toys, but clicking that link leads back to the main toy page:
While Walmart’s physical store aisles aren’t labeled by gender, a spokesperson confirmed to Consumerist, the online store does offer gender-based sorting, among other classifications.
“On Walmart.com, we offer several filtering options to allow customers to search for items how they choose, whether it’s by age, category, brand, price, or gender,” the spokesperson said.
The boys’ section features an ad with a purple and green color scheme and pirate action figures:
The girls’ page has rotating ads featuring dollhouses, a girl in a (different) pink Minnie Mouse kitchen, and Wonder Woman, if you’re looking for:
Kohl’s did not return requests for information regarding its physical stores, but a store associate we talked to in Jersey City told us that the toy department is organized only, “kind of by like whatever toys we have right now “— and not by age or gender.
A trusted associate of Consumerist visited a Kohl’s in Milwaukee and found no signs designating boys’ or girls’ toys, although the dolls were all in the same aisle with tiny makeup kits. Toys were grouped more by age and toy type, our friend says.
It’s unclear whether Macy’s has a gender orgniaztion scheme in its toy department: The company didn’t reply to our request for information, and when we called the flagship location in New York City, no one answered the phone in the children’s department.
Macy’s doesn’t filter by gender online, but instead by age range, toy type — educational, outdoor, electronics, etc. — special offers, characters, brand, price, and customer ratings: