It’s a magic place, you may or may not have been on your way there, and it has toys in their millions all under one roof. Except it doesn’t, because it’s probably going into administration. Sorry.
Toys ‘R’ Us, home of your fevered childhood fantasies, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US - an attempt to “restructure its debts”.
1,600 stories and 64,000 employees are at risk in the filing, which the Independent reports is “one of the largest ever Chapter 11 filings by a speciality retailer”. The move also comes just before the Christmas shopping season - a time when Toys ‘R’ Us makes a large fraction of its annual sales - around 40% of its $11bn in annual sales.
The company has struggled since it was bought out in 2005, and has also failed to keep up with online retailers like Amazon and eBay. According to GlobalData Retail, 13.7% of toy sales were made online in 2016. And according to the Financial Times, vendors have “limited shipments of inventory” to the store. Toy lines related to “Hollywood films that failed to meet box office goals” were neglected in favour of simpler fads like fidget spinners, and elsewhere toy manufacturers Lego and Mattel have reported falls in sales.
If you were planning on doing your Christmas shopping at the store, no need to worry - the European wing of the company is not part of any bankruptcy proceedings, and there’ll be “no immediate impact” on UK stores, although if the move is indeed the consequence of a more general trend, then Geoffrey the Giraffe should sleep with one eye open from now on. Brexit has caused a “considerable uncertainty in regards to interest rates, currency values, consumer disposable income and consumer spending”, according to Toys ‘R’ Us, but the store has no concrete plans as “the full effects of the vote will not be known for some time”.
“Like any retailer, decisions about any future store closings – and openings – will continue to be made based on what makes the best sense for the business,” Michael Freitag, a spokesman for Toys ‘R’ Us, told Bloomberg.
And just like that, your childhood dreams die. Goodbye childhood dreams.