Toys R Us Shutters its Only 2 U.S. Stores
The only two Toys R Us stores, which opened in November 2019 as part of a small U.S. comeback attempt by the iconic toy chain, have now closed, reports AP News. The Toys R Us store at the Galleria mall in Houston shuttered on Jan. 15, while the other at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, closed on Tuesday, according Tru Kids, a new entity formed when it acquired Toys R Us’ intellectual property during its liquidation in 2018. The Toys R Us website is still in operation and more than 700 of the toy stores outside of the United States are still open.
“As a result of COVID, we made the strategic decision to pivot our store strategy to new locations and platforms that have better traffic,” Tru Kids said in an emailed statement Friday. “Consumer demand in the toy category and for Toys R Us remains strong and we will continue to invest in the channels where the customer wants to experience our brand.”
Total Retail's Take: Unfortunately, this move isn't surprising. Relaunching in late 2019 under Tru Kids, Toys R Us barely had time to open its new stores before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the U.S. in early 2020, hitting retail businesses hard. The brand had planned its new stores to be smaller in footprint and more interactive, selling fewer toys and instead focusing on playground-like environments with hands-on experiences for kids. The pandemic severely limited all in-person experiences, forced physical retailers to either close stores or follow strict safety guidelines, and depressed customer traffic to stores as consumers shifted to online shopping.
Toys R Us will now pivot to sell its experiences in a virtual setting, reducing it back to an e-commerce-only operation for toy buying. While there was much excitement and hope from consumers who were happy to see the iconic brand returning to market, the unfortunate timing of the health crisis prevented the relaunch from much in-store success. It's not yet known if Toys R Us will try to launch new locations once the health crisis subsides and consumers feel comfortable bringing their children to interactive, indoor settings again.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Women in Retail Leadership Circle and sister brand Total Retail. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for both brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment recording interviews with retailers.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.