For fans of Disney theme parks who live hundreds or thousands of miles away, having a Disney Store nearby has been a way to get “a little taste of Disney” in-between visits to the parks. Some fans (hand raised) have even been known to get jobs at The Disney Store as a way to immerse themselves in the magic even more (and get nice discounts, too).
The chain was established in Glendale CA in 1987 and at its height of popularity, there were roughly 750 Disney Stores in the U.S. and over 1,000 worldwide.
The Disney Store has had its ups and downs. In the years after that all-time high in the mid-late 90s, they had several years of decreased sales and multiple closures of underperforming stores. The chain was eventually sold to a subsidiary of The Children’s Place, Hoop Holdings, in 2004 in what was to be a 15-year lease. However, the brand was repurchased by Disney in 2008 when Hoop Holdings declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Since reacquiring the brand, Disney has closed more and more Disney Stores, but there are still currently about 300 worldwide.
That number is about to shrink considerably.
As reported in The New York Times, The Walt Disney Company has announced they’re planning to close at least 60 Disney Stores in North America in 2021. They’ll start by closing about 20% of the stores and then re-evaluate what other closures might still need to happen. All told, it’s expected that roughly one-third of the Disney Stores in the region will close this year.
From the NYT:
The company described the closures as the “beginning” of its downsizing effort. A significant number of overseas stores are also expected to close. According to its 2020 annual report, Disney has about 60 stores in Europe.
The coronavirus pandemic has hurt in-person retail business significantly. Meanwhile, ShopDisney, Disney’s online presence, has grown considerably. According to Stephanie Young, president of Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, the company plans to continue expanding and integrating the website more with the company’s theme parks apps and social media platforms.
“While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” Young was quoted as saying on CNBC.
CNBC also noted that Disney’s other in-person shopping experiences, including over 600 stores in Disney parks, shop-in-shop locations in stores such as Target, Disney lifestyle and outlet locations, and third-party retailers around the world wouldn’t be impacted by these planned closures.
But for countless Disney fans who used The Disney Store as a way to get a local “Disney fix” in-between visits to the parks, I’m sure this will be horribly disappointing.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company,
See ya real soon!
Why? Because we like you!
Feature Photo: Public Domain
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary