Stamford Advocate

Disney Store set to close at Danbury mall

- By Alexander Soule

For a second — and perhaps the final time — Disney Store is closing at the Danbury Fair mall, as well as Westfarms in West Hartford, among mass closures nationally that will leave the retail chain with little more than two dozen locations.

Walt Disney announced plans for a round of closures in March, without identifyin­g all affected locations at the time. Eight Disney Store locations will close, split between New York and New Jersey, along with a pair in Massachuse­tts and one in New Hampshire.

That will whittle the Northeast footprint to Times Square in New York City and the Mill at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, N.J. Walt Disney indicated it will focus retail sales online and at “shop in shop” Disney sections in other stores.

Toys R Us is relaunchin­g retail sales next year in stand-alone sections at Macy’s stores nationally, with the department store chain having yet to say

whether that will include its Danbury Fair and Westfarms stores and others in Connecticu­t.

Walt Disney announced the closures the same week it marked the 100th anniversar­y of Winnie the Pooh, one of many characters that have stocked Disney Store shelves, whether as stuffed animals or emblazoned on apparel

and other items.

Stores will close two weeks in advance of the company marking 50 years since the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida. Disney Store dates to March 1987 with the opening of an initial store in Glendale, Calif.

“We are focused on the ongoing recovery of our parks business and the resumption of Disney Cruise Line,” said Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek, on a mid-August conference call with investment

analysts. “There have been some encouragin­g developmen­ts in recent months, particular­ly with the ongoing roll-out of the vaccine and the gradual lifting of government-mandated restrictio­ns.”

Walt Disney does not break out Disney Store’s revenue from overall merchandis­e licensing sales in its quarterly reports, which totaled $1.1 billion for its most recently completed financial quarter.

But closing shop has represente­d a significan­t hit to the bottom line for Walt Disney. Over the past nine months, the Burbank, Calif.-based giant has shelled out $562 million to close retail stores nationally, as well as its Blue Sky Studios animation house in Greenwich, and covering severance for employees it has laid off during the pandemic, including at theme parks.

The Disney Store closed in Danbury in 2008 in the wake of a bankruptcy proceeding by The Children’s Place, which had operated the chain for four years under a licensing arrangemen­t.

Disney Store returned to Danbury Fair in 2015, with a mall spokespers­on telling Hearst Connecticu­t at the time that customer enthusiasm was “off the hook” given strong box offices for movie franchises like “Frozen.”

 ?? Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo ?? Shoppers stroll in 2015 past The Disney Store at the Danbury Fair mall. The store is closing in September as Walt Disney shifts its retail emphasis to online sales.
Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo Shoppers stroll in 2015 past The Disney Store at the Danbury Fair mall. The store is closing in September as Walt Disney shifts its retail emphasis to online sales.

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