After 33 years as the mall’s mainstay, Mickey Mouse mostly calls it a day.
The Walt Disney Company said Wednesday it would dramatically downsize its chain of Disney stores, which have struggled amid the pandemic and a wider consumer shift to online shopping. At least 60 locations in North America – 30 percent of the Disney Store’s space in the region – will be closed this year.
The company described the closings as the “beginning” of its downsizing efforts. A significant number of overseas stores are also expected to close. According to the 2020 annual report, Disney has around 60 stores in Europe.
The Disney Store chain was founded in 1987 and once had more than 1,000 locations worldwide. In the early 1990s, during a malls boom, Disney even experimented with an adjacent spin-off chain of Mickey’s Kitchen restaurants, selling Dumbo burgers, Pinocchio pizzas, and Donald Duck fries, among other things.
Disney redesigned many Disney Store locations in 2017 to boost business. Live video feeds from the theme parks were integrated and the mix of goods shifted away from toys to fashion-conscious young adults. The results were mixed. In 2019, when malls continued to struggle, Disney expanded its merchandising presence in Target stores. This has been viewed by analysts as the beginning of the end of the stand-alone Disney Store business.
Stephanie Young, president of Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, said ShopDisney, the company’s online store, will expand over the next year and become more integrated with Disney’s theme park apps and social media platforms.