Disney to close 60 North American retail stores, focus on e-commerce

LOS ANGELES, March 3 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co will close at least 60 Disney retail stores in North America this year as the company revamps its digital shopping platforms to focus on e-commerce, the company said on Wednesday.

Disney also is evaluating a significant reduction of stores in Europe, a spokesperson said, adding that locations in Japan and China will not be affected. The company currently operates roughly 300 Disney stores around the globe.

Disney did not say how many people would lose their jobs as a result of its store closures.

Consumers have been moving to digital shopping over physical locations, and chains including Walmart Inc and Macy’s Inc have shuttered physical stores. The global coronavirus pandemic accelerated that change in behavior when people were forced to stay home.

“While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer,” said Stephanie Young, president of Disney’s consumer products, games and publishing.

Over the past few years, Disney has expanded its shops inside other retailers such as Target. Those locations will continue to operate, as well as Disney Parks Stores. Disney-licensed products also will remain widely available through third-party retailers.

“We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected ecommerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises,” Young said.

Digital shopping gives Disney a chance to offer a much broader selection and include higher-end products from all of its Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars brands.

New products will be introduced including adult apparel, artist collaborations, streetwear, premium home products and collectibles, the company said.

Disney will revamp its shopDisney apps and websites over the next year.

Disney recently launched new digital marketplaces in Australia, New Zealand and India. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)