Toys R Us to close all 800 of its US stores

World Today

The Toys R Us store in Times Square is a shadow of its former self, at a third of the size of its previous Times Square location just a few blocks away. That store closed down a few years ago as it faced bankruptcy.

CGTN’s Karina Huber has more from New York.

The company filed documents this week to begin the process of either selling or closing all of its U.S. outlets, roughly 800 of them, and liquidate existing merchandise. It is also seeking a sale process for its businesses in Asia and parts of Europe.

The rise of Amazon and other competitors like Walmart, which is currently the largest seller of toys in the U.S., helped kill Toys R Us’ U.S. operation. Analysts say these were both a factor but the biggest problem was Toys R’ Us’s debt, roughly $5 billion of it that was costing the company about 400 million dollars a year to service. That meant the company didn’t have the money to invest in its stores and improve the experience for consumers, which is seen as the only way to stay competitive against e-commerce giants like Amazon.

It was a prime example of the perils of being bought by private equity groups. Much of that debt was loaded onto the company after it was bought by private equity giants KKR, Bain Capital and real estate firm Vornado in 2005. That, combined with a changing retail landscape, proved too much for the company to survive here.

The demise of Toys R’ Us will have an impact on many, foremost its more than 30,000 U.S. employees. Toy makers like Mattel and Hasbro will have one less place to sell their toys, making them even more reliant on e-commerce and Walmart. And it will also have an impact on the commercial real estate market. There are not a lot of retailers with a need for the kind of space Toys R’ Us occupied.

Among consumers, the reaction was mixed. Many took to social media to voice their sadness and nostalgia.

One tweeted “Sad to hear that it’s the end for #ToysRUs. Such a shame for the staff being made redundant and the millions of children who won’t get to experience the excitement of that place.”

“Even when they’re all gone, I’ll always be a Toys R Us Kid,” wrote another.

Toys R Us may come back in another form but the retailer as we known it is breathing its last breaths marking the end of an era for many.