If you want to buy your kids Olaf plushies to keep them occupied through the pandemic, you may have to start looking online.
Disney announced Wednesday that it would shut down 60 of its North American store locations as part of the company’s ongoing shift towards focusing on streaming and direct-to-consumer storefronts. Although the company’s decision to axe it's storefronts seems like a major step towards its digital-first strategy, Disney Stores have been on the decline for some time now.
Thinknum data shows that 40 Disney stores have closed since 2017 — a steady decline and sign that the company’s digital shift was a long time coming and accelerated by the pandemic. Still, the closure of 60 additional stores will mark the largest one-time decrease in locations in Disney’s history, and the company has said that it will use the closures as a testing ground to decide which, if any, other locations could be closed.
Though Disney has not stated which stores will be closed, the above map which shows all currently open Disney Store locations as well as those that have been closed since 2017, paints a picture of the company’s priorities and which stores may be targeted as part of the mass closure. According to Thinknum data, Disney Stores are primarily clustered along the east and west coasts, and stores which were previously shut down were often either in close proximity to other, still-open locations, or were far removed from others.
Georgia, for example — which once had five locations in relatively close proximity surrounding Atlanta — now only has two open locations after three were shut down over the last several years. Florida has also seen a significant number of closures, with the remaining Disney Store locations mainly being located in Orlando, Tampa and Miami. The Great Lakes region has also seen a significant number of closures. Stores in close proximity in non-major metropolitan areas may be targeted for closure as the amount of foot traffic thins and they begin to compete with themselves.
The closures will involve an undisclosed number of layoffs for Disney in a year that’s already been full of them. In the fall, the company announced that it would lay off 28,000 of its parks staff after the company’s lobbying efforts failed to move the needle on pandemic theme park restrictions.
Though Disney is making strides in moving its retail operations to the internet, its digital shift is most apparent with its increased focus on Disney+, which has attempted to move the needle with killer apps like Hamilton, The Mandalorian, and the more recent WandaVision, though the latter has not been as successful in driving new subscribers and traffic as the previous two.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.