On March 15, 2018, Toys R Us announced that it would be closing all 735 locations in the United States. Fans and non-fans of the brand analyzed what had happened. Was it poor marketing? Was it the lack of a clear e-commerce strategy? Was it an over-leveraged financial situation? Was it the absence of fun at the brick-and-mortar locations?
Whatever went wrong, one thing remains absolute: Toys R Us is shutting its doors. Its e-commerce site is now defunct and its stores are selling off whatever is left before all 735 locations are sold off.
Bad news aside, it turns out that shutting down stores has been good for Toys R Us, at least when it comes to foot traffic.
Starting on March 15, 2018 — the day Toys R Us announced its impending doom — physical Facebook check-ins at Toys R Us stores surged (relatively) from a cumulative 2,063,844 to 2,103,875 as of today. While this may not seem like a massive change - just 40,031 new checkins in two weeks - the floundering retail establishment hasn't seen a foot traffic surge like this since the holiday season of 2016.
If we can learn anything from this, a going-out-of-business-sale and telling the world that "everything must go" — one of the oldest retail merchandising levers in the books — is still good for business.
What if this whole thing is a long play by Toys R Us in which its retail stores remain in a perpetual "going out of business sale"? One could only hope.