Hear that sound of slamming doors? It’s the final closure of all 100 Toys”R”Us stores in the UK. Some have closed; some are closing; soon, all will be gone, as the company found itself unable to pay one of those pesky £15 million tax bills.
Administrators Moorfields Advisory couldn’t find anyone who wanted to buy the collapsed retailer, so closure is the only option. Around 3,000 people are losing their jobs.
The closures of Toys “R” Us and electronics specialist Maplin were announced on the same day, dubbed “Black Wednesday”. Planet Real-World Retail really is in trouble. Our fragile economy means we’ve all had less cash to spread around; the purchasing power of wages has fallen and the weak pound has driven up inflation since the Brexit vote.
So we’ve developed a keen eye for a bargain, a discount, a deal. The trouble that the Real World is in, is that it’s very easy to find online what many bricks-and-mortar shops sell, often at cheaper prices. Not surprising. You don’t have to pay rent and business rates on the internet. Or much tax.
Toys”R”Us arrived in the UK in 1985, child of an American company and grew rapidly.
For many years, Toys”R”Us were accused of being a “category killer“, killing off low-volume retailers in town centres as they opened their out-of-town megastores selling high volumes at cheap prices. Now, the out-of-town megastores are being strangled by the internet selling higher volumes at even cheaper prices.
I never shopped at Toys”R”Us anyway, so you can’t blame me for the collapse. This was because of two things. First, the logo of the company incorporates a backwards “R”.
According to their history pages (not sure how long that link will live), this is to give the impression that a child wrote it. So, ToysЯUs, then. I thought that was just silly.
Second, my local store was in a retail park built on the Goldstone Ground which, as a Seagulls supporter, I could not patronise in protest against the selling off of the land, which left my local football team without a home.
The roll call of retailers who have gone under in the past few years makes for grim reading.
BHS, Warren Evans, Joe Bloggs, MultiYork, even the BBC Store. Vanished.
And they didn’t even have a backwards R to blame.
Toys Were Us, then?