Walt Disney Co. to shutter at least 60 Disney stores, shift focus online

The Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday it will close 20% of its Disney stores across North America before the end of 2021 in a bid to shift focus to its e-commerce business.

The closures will affect roughly one-third, or at least 60, of its brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Canada, representing about one-fifth of its 300 global locations, CNBC reported.

“While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” Stephanie Young, Disney’s president of consumer products, games and publishing, said in a prepared statement.

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The move also reflects the company’s desire to link its shopping experience to its Disney Parks apps and social media platforms, CNBC reported.

According to USA Today, the novel coronavirus pandemic has shuffled Disney’s entire business model, with its theme parks largely shuttered but its Disney+ streaming service attracting nearly 95 million subscribers. Although the company beat Wall Street expectations for the quarter ended December 2020, revenue decreased by 22% to $16.3 billion, compared with the nearly $21 billion reported for the same quarter in 2019.

Meanwhile, Disney will reevaluate its physical retail properties following the North American closures, with significant European reductions likely to follow, CNBC reported.

The company has not publicly identified the North American Disney store locations targeted for closure but did acknowledge an undisclosed number of layoffs will be required, the network reported.

“Over the past few years, we’ve been focused on meeting consumers where they are already spending their time, such as the expansion of Disney store shop-in-shops around the world,” Young said. “We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected e-commerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises.”

The closures are not expected to affect more than 600 Disney Parks stores and other locations, including Disney stores inside select Target locations, USA Today reported.