Want to buy "Frozen" merchandise? Be prepared to wait or pay up
By Jonathan Berr
Parents looking to buy anything connected with Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) red-hot "Frozen" movie should be prepared to wait or pay top dollar.
As Jezebel noted earlier this week, "Frozen" merchandise is flying off store shelves so fast that retailers including Wal-Mart (WMT) are having trouble meeting demand even though critical selling periods such as back-to-school are months away.
Not surprisingly, some entrepreneurial parents have tried to take advantage of the huge demand and tight supply for "Frozen" merchandise. There is a brisk trade of "Frozen" stuff on eBay (EBAY), where some sellers are asking for thousands of dollars for limited edition Anna and Elsa dolls. Others were asking hundreds of dollars for dresses and $1,000 for a 5-foot high plush version of Olaf.
Earlier this week, Disney Stores imposed a purchase limit of two items per visit on items connected to the Oscar-winning movie.
"Our customers love 'Frozen'," said Sarah McKinney, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, in an interview. "The demand for 'Frozen' is high and we continue to get new shipments in so we can get the products onto our shelves."
The success of "Frozen," which tells the story of two feuding sisters named Anna and Elsa who also happen to be princesses, has far exceeded expectations. Not only did the film win the Oscar for the Best Animated Feature Film and Best Song, but it has earned more than $1 billion in box office receipts, making it the highest grossing animated feature ever.
During the holiday season, "Frozen" merchandise accounted for half of the weekly top 25 selling items for the Disney Store -- a testament to the film's appeal to both children and adults. Disney sold out of limited edition Anna and Elsa dolls about 45 minutes after they went on sale online.
"Frozen" toys and dresses, such as the Mattel Sparkle Fashion brand, continue to be hot sellers at mass retailers. There are also a huge variety of other products such as plushes, iPad games and books that have been on the New York Times Best-Seller List. Wait times at Walt Disney World to meet Anna and Elsa run nearly two hours.
"Word has it that those characters are like the Beatles now, attracting large crowds of screaming females," quipped Jezebel.
Supplies for the Disney Store Elsa dress will be back in limited quantities later this month or early May and it should be fully back in stock by August at the latest. According to Disney, it will be launching new products in the fall, including those featuring Olaf the snowman, which the company described as a "breakout" character, that it hopes will appeal to boys.
The decision to limit purchase quantities for "Frozen" merchandise, which Disney has done before, isn't sitting well with some parents.
"By the time it is in stock the kids will be on to the next thing," grumbled one customer on the Disney Stores' Facebook page. "I know my daughter has almost given up on getting anything. I spend 6 hours every Tuesday and Thursday at my Disney store only to find out the employees were hiding the stuff for themselves and selling it on eBay! Disney should be ashamed of themselves! I cannot afford $200 for a singing Elsa doll!"
Interestingly, there are plenty of other commenters on the Facebook page who are lambasting the parents who are complaining about their problems getting their children the "Frozen" toys and apparel that they are demanding. As another poster suggested, "Tell your precious spoiled darlings to either be patient or as the song says, 'Let it go.'"