We don't write a lot about the standalone toy retailers these days. Why? Well, most of the companies like Toys "R" Us, FAO Schwartz, eToys, Zany Brainy, and Noodle Kidoodle --which traded publicly in the late 1990s -- just aren't around anymore. Many cashed out to private equity firms, while others simply buckled under competitive pressure. It's hard to put up much of a fight when the country's largest toy retailer is the mighty Wal-Mart
So it was refreshing to see privately held Toys "R" Us provide a glimpse of how it's doing. During the nine-week holiday period, the playthings superstore chain posted comps growth of 4.1% at its stateside stores.
How does that stack up? It certainly held up better than Wal-Mart. The world's leading retailer improved sales at the store level by 1.6% in December after posting an uncharacteristic dip of 0.1% a month earlier. However, Toys "R" Us didn't fare as well as video game retailer GameStop
Toys "R" Us naturally sold a great deal of Wii and PS3 systems, even though their relative scarcity found shoppers snapping up even more of the available Xbox 360. Toys "R" Us was also helped by more traditional toys like the hard-to-find Tickle Me Elmo TMX by Mattel
Still, it was a respectable showing for the company that was taken private nearly two years ago in a $6.6 billion deal. Is publicizing a healthy holiday showing a trial balloon to see if it can whet the market's appetite as a publicly traded entity again? Maybe. When you've got a giraffe as your mascot, it always pays to look around before you stick your neck out.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a kid at heart. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.