Disney has confirmed on its website that it will finally shut its remaining three Canadian locations next month after Retail Insider first reported on the the retailer’s full Canadian exit in April of this year. The brand has already shut all of its stores in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba as well as almost all locations in Ontario. The news comes after a report on August 23 that all but 25 US Disney locations will shutter by September 15.
The remaining three Disney stores to close in Canada are all in the Greater Toronto Area, and they will all close next month. Locations include CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Scarborough Town Centre and an outlet at Vaughan Mills just north of Toronto. According to Disney’s website, the Vaughan Mills store will close on or before September 15 while the two Toronto stores will shut on or before September 22. Liquidation will begin at the end of this month according to a source in the know who spoke with Retail Insider.
Several former Disney cast members have reached out to Retail Insider saying that they are unhappy with Disney’s lack of communication around the store closings. The company has yet to make a formal statement on its Canadian exit which is now confirmed. Prior to store closures, the Disney store website would be updated showing where locations would shutter with few other details provided even internally at store level. The lack of communication could harm the Disney brand in the eyes of consumers as well as its cast members who are in many instances ‘superfans’ of the brand.
Disney stores have been closing globally with a significant pull-out in Europe as well as in major US markets. A report on August 23 stated that 57 more Disney locations in the United States will shut by September 15, leaving only 25 stores remaining and their future could be uncertain. Prominent locations, including Disney’s very first store at Glendale Galleria, have already shuttered.
Last month we reported on the Disney locations that were slated to close in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. In Alberta, Disney closed all stores in Edmonton at West Edmonton Mall and Kingsway Mall as well as in Calgary at CF Market Mall and Southcentre. In Manitoba, Disney operated a single store at CF Polo Park in Winnipeg until recently.
In Ontario, five Disney stores closed earlier this month including Toronto area locations (Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Upper Canada Mall), Hamilton (CF Lime Ridge), Ottawa (CF Rideau Centre), and London (CF Masonville Place).
In June we reported that Disney would shut its three stores in British Columbia at CF Pacific Centre, Metropolis at Metrotown and Guildford Town Centre.
Retail Insider was informed by multiple sources in April of this year that all Disney stores would be shutting in Canada. One source was a major landlord not permitted to speak on the record. Retail Insider made the initial store closing announcement in April partly to give employees time to attempt to secure alternative employment because Disney typically makes such announcements shortly before stores actually shutter.
After our report in April, we were informed that several retailers had been reaching out to Disney employees who are considered to be highly desirable. Since our first article was published, some employees have already secured new jobs and were working at the Disney stores until they closed in order to take advantage of severance moneys.
Disney is said to be re-evaluating its operations amid a challenging time for retail as consumer shopping patterns shift to online channels. On March 3, Disney announced that it was planning on focusing on its e–commerce business while at the same time reducing its brick-and-mortar footprint. Initially, a total of 60 North American locations were announced to close including the Square One (Mississauga) and CrossIron Mills (Calgary area) locations in Canada.
Earlier this year, mall landlords in Canada were said to have been working with Disney on an exit strategy which involved Disney paying out the remaining duration for its Canadian leases which in some cases had a duration of several years to bypass any potential litigation.
Some are speculating that Disney might come back to Canada in partnership with Toys R Us, which was recently acquired by Putman Investments.
Disney never launched e-commerce in Canada, nor did it secure warehouse space for product fulfillment in terms of ship-to-store or otherwise. If consumers ordered online from the company’s global website, taxes and duties would be charged. One source noted that several of the Canadian Disney store units, including the CF Toronto Eaton Centre and West Edmonton Mall locations, were among the company’s top-selling stores.
The Walt Disney Company reacquired the Disney Store business from Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. in 2008, with 231 locations being purchased in Canada and the United States. Operating under the Disney Consumer Products division of the company until 2018, the stores were merged under a new division called Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, which was previously under the leadership of Bob Chapek. Mr. Chapek was named the Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company in February 2020 and subsequently named Josh D’Amaro as his successor as the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.