An empty toy story – What retail can learn from the Toys R Us Closure

by Michael Addison in Small Business Guidance | posted:


28th February 2018.

Forlorn UK shoppers will remember this as the day retail outlet Toys R Us went into administration.

As crowds of people cry out why this happened, online opinions seem to come to a similar r us reasoning

toys r s closure reason

Levelled complaints against online retailers and the changing preference in today’s society. But, is this the real reason it happened?


Why did toys r us close?

This shouldn’t come across as a surprise. The US chain filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. With the UK chain owing £150 million, to HMRC. Coupled with the millions owed to toy manufacturers such as Mattel (135 million owed for Barbie figures) it’s not hard to see the financial strains the company was under.


The reason for these crippling expenses is understandable when you consider these internal and external factors that have affected the stores:

  • Online e-commerce has made shopping easier than travelling to physical stores.
  • Expensive pricing that couldn’t match their competitors.
  • The store lost sight of what made it so popular in the first place. The “magical place” 90’s advert evoked fun and wonder of being a child. Competitors like Smyths and Hamleys build customer relationships by offering a fun experience. Toys R Us fun and play abandoned, in favour of overstocked shelves.

toys r us vs hanleys

The store was still conducting the same business while everyone else was moving on. Geoffrey the Giraffe, once a mascot of fun, now, a tired figurehead. Toys R Us lacked imagination and refused to change.

What can retailers learn from these mistakes?


A report from Retail Research predicts the volume of online retail sales will rise to 21.5% by 2018 or the end of the decade. But, the end of Toys R Us doesn’t mark the end of the toy store. Brick and mortar still matter. A solution to keeping customers coming back to physical stores is to deliver optimised in-store offers via email, SMS and social. This focus on mixing both store and digital together is crucial for small-scale retailers.


What Can Retailers do to improve?

We have written about what companies can do to improve their website and online presence here:

Website Design

Having the right tools

Highstreet meets online shopping

But what about your physical store?

Do you have an appropriate schedule for your general waste?

If not, you should consider a trusted general waste provider. We service over 550 retailers around the UK with a wide variety of waste services.

Give us a call today to see how we can help your retail business on 0808 274 0841