Toys R Us retrenches again, shutters its last 2 US stores

In December 2019, a girl hugs the Toys R Us mascot, Geoffrey, at the new store at a mall in Paramus, N.J. However, that store and another one in Houston closed last month. Those had been the last two U.S. stores from the iconic toy chain still open.

NEW YORK — Toys R Us is retrenching once again.

The only two Toys R Us stores that opened in November 2019 as part of a small U.S. comeback attempt by the iconic toy chain have now closed.

The Toys R Us store at the Galleria mall in Houston shuttered on Jan. 15, while one at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., closed in late January, according to Tru Kids, a new entity formed when it acquired Toys R Us’ intellectual property during its liquidation in 2018.

The moves come as physical stores, particularly mall-based locations, have been hurt by weak customer traffic amid the pandemic.

The Toys R Us website is still in operation.

“As a result of COVID, we made the strategic decision to pivot our store strategy to new locations and platforms that have better traffic,” Tru Kids said in an emailed statement. “Consumer demand in the toy category and for Toys R Us remains strong and we will continue to invest in the channels where the customer wants to experience our brand.”

The two shuttered locations were about 6,500 square feet — about one-seventh of the size of the old Toys R U stores and emphasized hands-on experiences. Employees unwrapped toys, for instance, so that kids could try them out.

During a visit to the New Jersey store in late 2019, kids shot Nerf blasters and sat in a circle for story time while Geoffrey, the chain’s mascot, roamed around. Such experiences are now shunned at a time when shoppers have to abide by social-distancing rules.

Tru Kids said that outside of the U.S., it operates Toys R Us, and Babies R Us branded stores and e-commerce sites through licensing partners in more than 25 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Bloomberg News first reported the news of the store closures.

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