Updated to include comments from Target spokeswoman.
Talk about retailers falling asleep at the wheel.
Pokemon Go fever has been spreading across the globe since the mobile game's launch on July 5. The stats tied to what has become a cultural phenomenon are staggering.
According to Survey Monkey, Nintendo's (NTDOY) Pokemon Go became the most popular game in mobile history in the U.S. inside of five days -- even more popular than King Digital's (KING) Candy Crush -- with a shade over 20 million peak active daily users. A mere two days after the release, Pokemon Go was already installed on 5.16% of all Alphabet (GOOGL) Android phones in the U.S., with double the downloads for dating site Tinder, according to data from Digital Vision.
Some retailers are reportedly getting a boost in traffic due to the game's mechanics. Pokemon Go uses augmented reality, smartphone GPS and Google Maps to project images of animated characters on mobile screens in a real-time environment.
Players can visit real-life locations designated as gyms or PokeStops and then battle others' Pokemon or find items to help them in the game. Businesses picked out as gyms or PokeStops are able to get a boost in traffic and potentially sales, as gamers wander the stores hunting for Pokemon.
A photo posted by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (@walmart) on
TheStreet hit three malls and one shopping center on Long Island, N.Y., to see which retailers were trying to capitalize on the Pokemon Go craze, either with related merchandise or signs to consumers that their stores were a PokeStop.
The outcome was rather sad, though, as big retailers such as Walmart (WMT) , Target (TGT) , Macy's (M) , and J.C. Penney (JCP) had nothing tied to Pokemon Go or Pokemon more broadly. Even Genesco (GCO) -owned shoe and accessory seller Journeys -- which tends to hawk pop culture related merchandise -- lacked Pokemon gear. Target is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
When reached via email asking about near-term plans to cash in on the Pokemon Go insanity, most retailers sounded caught off-guard.
"Who would've expected Pokemon would be driving traffic to Walmart after 20 years, but we're excited about it," said a Walmart spokeswoman via email. "From a merchandise perspective, we've seen demand for wireless accessories (to help people keep on playing) and Pokemon products."
Walmart says daily search queries for "Pokemon" on its website have doubled since July 6. The world's largest retailer managed to post a reference to Pokemon Go on its Instagram account Monday evening, with a shout out that it was now carrying Pokemon swag.
"Target carries hundreds of Pokemon items online and in store, and we've seen jumps in the sale of Nintendo 3DS video games and licensed toys since Pokemon Go launched," said a Target spokeswoman via email. We didn't see a single Pokemon item, other than a video game, however, at the two Target stores we visited.
Here are the only two retailers TheStreet found to have anything related to Pokemon in their stores.
A GameStop location in Garden City, NY showcases Pokemon backpacks in the window.
It's not a big surprise, but video game and accessories retailer GameStop (GME) had the most merchandise related to Pokemon in the mall.
We saw Pokemon-themed backpacks and older Pokemon games for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming platform in the store window.
Efforts to stock Pokemon stuff at the video game and collectibles destination is seeming to pay off for GameStop.
According to a GameStop spokeswoman, the company has more than 400 stores that are either PokeStops or PokeGyms. Sales in those stores for Pokemon producers were up 100% last weekend. That includes sales of Pokemon merchandise such as backpacks, trading cards, plush dolls, accessories and apparel. Portable chargers were also a hot seller.
GameStop plans to feature Pokemon collectibles through July 24.
GameStop shares are up about 12% since Pokemon Go's debut.
One probably needs a better phone to successfully capture Pokemon, says Best Buy.
It was good to see retailer Best Buy (BBY) appeal to Pokemon Go players. At a location we visited in Garden City, N.Y., Best Buy stuck a sign at the entrance referencing Pokemon Go and pitching higher-powered phones. After all, a lame phone likely means lost Pokemon.
We were disappointed that this particular location had no Pokemon collectibles in the Nintendo gaming aisle, nor any reference to Pokemon more broadly.
Another Best Buy location in Virginia Beach, Va., recently erected a table offering Pokemon Go trainers beef jerky, batteries and bottled water.