Shocker! Toys ‘R’ Us to Close 100 Store Locations in Coming Weeks and Cut 200 Employees From Corporate HQ Jobs

During the economic growth of the '80s and '90s, it seemed Toys 'R Us could do no wrong as its stores continued to grew bigger and more omnipresent. Today however, the sluggish economy and consumer switch to online purchasing has put a severe bite into the toy giant's once dominating market position. (Photo: Toys 'R' Us)

During the economic growth periods of the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed Toys ‘R Us could do no wrong as its stores continued to grow larger and become omnipresent around the world. Today however, a sluggish worldwide economy and increasing competition from Walmart and Amazon have combined to put severe pressure on the toy giant’s once dominant market position. (Photo: Toys ‘R’ Us)

Toys 'R' Us mascot, "Geoffrey" (also unceremoniously "retired"), is looking a little less upbeat these days, after hearing the news that 100 of his stores will soon be closing. (Graphic: Toys 'R' Us)

Toys ‘R’ Us mascot, “Geoffrey” (also unceremoniously “retired”), is looking a little less upbeat these days, especially after hearing the sad news that 100 of his beloved stores will soon be closing. (Graphic: Toys ‘R’ Us)

The End of “Brick & Mortar” Toy Stores?

In an article published Monday, March 3rd, 2014 in the digital edition of the The Record, stunning news was revealed regarding the not-so-rosy future of giant toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us. According to The Record’s staff writer, Joan Verdon, the once dominant company will soon cut 200 corporate jobs at its headquarters, and then close 100 of its stores. Here is the article (edited for length):

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“Toys “R” Us is expected to announce layoffs at its headquarters in Wayne (NJ), and some 100 store closings in the coming weeks, according to industry sources. Toys spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh would not comment Monday on a New York Post report that the retailer is preparing to eliminate up to 200 corporate jobs, but toy industry sources said they expect cutbacks will be announced soon. “We’re all waiting for the shoe to drop,” said one toy analyst.

At the American International Toy Fair in New York City two weeks ago, several manufacturers said privately that Toys executives had told them they would be making cuts and streamlining operations in order to improve the company’s focus. “We’ve all heard the rumors and we all expect there are going to be layoffs and store closings,” said veteran industry observer Jim Silver, editor of TTPM, a toy review and news website.

Cutbacks and store closings have been predicted for Toys since early January, when the retailer posted another set of disappointing holiday sales results for Christmas 2013. Sales at U.S. stores declined 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which includes the important holiday shopping months of November and December, the period when Toys makes most of its profit for the year.

Sean McGowan, a senior analyst at Needham & Co., said he had no specific information about planned cuts at Toys, but said the company has been under growing competitive pressure, particularly from online retailer Amazon. “What’s ominous about Amazon’s growth is it strikes at the heart of one of Toys’ competitive advantages, which is selection,” McGowan said. While Walmart and Target have a smaller selection of toys in their stores than Toys, a website such as Amazon can offer a limitless selection of toys.”

Bottom Line: While Toys ‘R’ Us isn’t going away completely, the experience of taking your child, hand-in-hand to a neighborhood toy store to “marvel” at all the latest cool toys, may soon become a distant memory for many. In fact, playing with toys, games, dolls and other inanimate objects, which was once considered so vital, almost revered by children, also appears to be threatened. The world is changing. And the children of today are growing up so MUCH faster. As time marches on, it seems inevitable that future youth will become hooked on electronic distractions such as cell phones, the internet and video games at ever younger ages, leaving their innocence and carefree “play” of childhood behind all too soon. The ultimate result? Who can say?

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16 thoughts on “Shocker! Toys ‘R’ Us to Close 100 Store Locations in Coming Weeks and Cut 200 Employees From Corporate HQ Jobs

  1. Conner says:

    It is a sad image for us toy collectors, but the truth of the matter is kids just don’t play with toys the way we did. My 7 yr olds favorite Christmas toy was an iPod. This shift has hurt the toy industry across the board, I believe. My kids tell me all the time how much cooler the bight-colored boxes and out-of-this-world gadgets, play sets, and vehicles from the ’70’s AT era are compared to the ’90’s and ’00’s. Very little of the GIjOE lexicon of the last 25 yrs has been made for kids. A 7 yr old doesn’t care about a WW1 Doughboy, or Teddy Roosevelt, or so much other of the stuff.

  2. This is sad news. I love going to Toys R Us. You never know what you might find.

    • I USED to love going there. Now it’s like wading through “Diaper City” before I find any toys. I mean, if they want to be a baby store, that’s fine. But trying to be everything for everybody just isn’t the way to go, IMO.

  3. William S says:

    This is only a “glimpse” into a window of a far bigger picture these days as far as a ‘sign-of-the-times’. These young idiots these days who are pretty much hard-wired to their….. ~*AHEM~* ….”personal electronic devices” are going to sink their own ship and drown in their own vomit as this planet implodes in on itself due to the collective mind-set of the idiots who are taking over the future of the world and its fate. Let the toy stores all close down. These young idiots today totally deserve every crappy thing that happens to them for here on in.

  4. Wayne Faucher says:

    I wouldn’t call it a shocker. TRU was a stop I made every weekend for years. In fact, it was my main source. In the last 5 years, I’ve been there maybe 5 times. And I buy more toys now than ever. I dunno, the allure of pressing a button and having exactly what you want show up at your door is just too great. Same for books and dvds. What Steven says is right; you never know what you might find. That was the problem, since I was usually looking for a specific item….

    I do have many fond memories of taking my kids to TRU, though. Man, they used to test drive the electric cars all over the store. Bikes too. It was bedlam, but it was fun! THAT you can’t do over a computer…

    Then, when I started going by myself, I found I was getting those looks from other parents that I may be looking for something other than toys….It creeped me out.

    • Great sociological and psychological comments, Wayne. Not to mention, economical. One trip a year, whatever your reasoning, does not bode well for Toys ‘R’ Us’ future, IMO. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out…

  5. kneonknight says:

    Mr. Faucher touched on a key point in all of this, in that “the allure of pressing a button and having exactly what you want show up at your door is just too great.” is a very real thing. The internet has opened up an entire world of possibilities for us, yet we choose to stay at home rather than go out and actually experience what it shows us. I’m afraid that the all too alluring ease of shopping online has doomed most ‘brick and mortar’ stores to eventual oblivion.

    Unfortunately, this is ultimately going to hurt collectors of all stripes unless they already know exactly what a piece they are searching for is and looks like: “WWI Doughboy? What is that?” says the pre-teen kid just getting into the hobby. Us old-timers waited and waited for that exact figure for years because it was representative of the first truly ‘modern’ war, and he has no clue what it is supposed to be, so it gets left on the shelf in favor of some poorly executed movie tie-in merchandise. Sad, but true.

    The real bottom line is that collecting should always be a ‘hands on’ experience. You should be able to look at any item from all angles, and decide if it does indeed possess the qualities and characteristics that are desirable to YOU, personally. Those horrible photos on Evilbay which were obviously taken with a potato or toaster simply do not satisfy that criteria.

    The internet giveth in drips and drabs, and taketh away in multitudes.

  6. Wayne Faucher says:

    In response to an earlier post: This should be a safe haven for toy discussion, not an open forum for verbal assault on political beliefs or perceived societal ills. I’m SURE many of us disagree on many, many things. That’s why we should have the good sense to not bring them up in a forum about toys.

  7. kneonknight says:

    In fairness, I should have mentioned that Wal-Mart bears a lot of the responsibility for Toys-R-Us’ decline. TRU simply couldn’t compete price-wise. Couple that with the fact that there isn’t that much available for the 1/6 scale collectors and hobbyists, and you can imagine they lost a sizable chunk of revenue.

    Where I used to live, it was a common occurrence to go to the Action Figure aisle at the local TRU and see it packed with guys in their 30s, 40s and 50s, comparing notes and telling stories about their own collections and childhood memories as they pored over the 21st Century and Timeless sets. It was pretty much the same at the local KayBee store. Sadly, both of those establishments closed their doors for good almost 10 years ago.

    That was obviously quite a while back, of course, but it does say something about how the hobbyist does support the brick and mortar establishments – in addition to our own purchases, we always picked up something for our kids or grandkids while we were there. The decline of the 1/6 scale figure has had a ripple effect on a lot of merchants. Couple that with the huge effect the internet has had on our shopping habits, and it was only a matter of time before TRU and other establishments started to feel the pinch.

    • I concur completely with your statement that, “The decline of the 1/6 scale figure has had a ripple effect on a lot of merchants.” For years, I too, would go into TRU because of the 1/6 to found there, often buying other things like Batman, Hot Wheels, etc. that I would find while shopping. NOW…because GIjOE and 1/6 scale really aren’t for sale in there anymore, I don’t go in AT ALL. All those other “peripheral sales” are lost to them now as well. That’s a very REAL “ripple effect.”

  8. Doesn’t surprise me, the local TRU is a mess … couldn’t find Captain Action when they were carrying it, their G.I. Joe section is mini and moves around … they have a bunch of the Marvel stuff though, but it looks like they never sell them!!!

    • Nate Wells says:

      I often reminisce that one of the perks of growing up in the ’70s and ’80s was that it was a golden era for toy stores. There were three main toy stores, TRU, KB/Toy Works and Child World; a hobby franchise Iin Eric Fuchs, as well as a plethora of independent toy and hobby stores. Child World was always my favorite of the large stores; smaller than TRU but better organized. Only TRU remains. Monopoly often breeds stagnation. Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target have made them victims of their own success. Just as Joe couldn’t handle 21st and SOTW after they improved from ’99 on (to say nothing of when DML and BBi started showing up on shelves), TRU’s decline started years ago.

  9. Mike Nash says:

    Digital age, I guess.

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