Toys R Us Shuts 2 U.S. Stores

According to AP News, the two Toys R Us stores that opened in November 2019 were part of a small U.S. revival effort by the iconic chain. According to Tru Kids, which was formed in 2018 when it purchased Toys R Us intellectual property, the Galleria Mall in Houston closed down on January 15. The Garden State Plaza in Paramus closed on Tuesday. Toys R Us’ website remains in operation, and over 700 toy stores are still open outside the United States.

Tru Kids stated in an email Friday that COVID had prompted them to make the strategic decision of shifting our store strategy to new areas and platforms with better traffic. We will continue to invest where customers want to experience our brand, as well as in the toys category.

Total Retail’s View: This move is not surprising. Toys R Us relaunched in late 2019 under Tru Kids. This was just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in the early 2020s, causing severe retail business losses. The brand planned to make its new stores smaller and more interactive. They would sell fewer toys, and instead focus on creating play areas for children. The pandemic caused severe limitations to all in-person experiences and forced physical retailers to close down or follow strict safety guidelines. This resulted in a drop in customer traffic as more people shifted to online shopping.

Toys R Us will now be able to sell its experiences online, making it an e-commerce-only company for toys. Although there was great excitement from the consumers, who were excited to see the iconic brand back on the market, the timing of the health crisis meant that the relaunch did not achieve the same success in-store. Toys R Us is yet to announce if it will open new stores once the health crisis passes and customers feel more comfortable bringing their kids to indoor interactive settings.

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Data is key to your 2021 Facilities Survival Plan

Retailers are optimistic about the year ahead after a difficult 2020. With the arrival of coronavirus vaccinations, it could mean an end to the year of constant closing and reopening. Stores can expect a release in pent-up spending as shoppers return to their stores.

Businesses must be careful not to take anything for granted. To ensure that they are able to survive the next year, they need to have a solid foundation of financial discipline. How physical locations are managed is a big part of how this works. Senior leaders have made store operations a priority, from cleaning to reconfiguring layouts for social distance. Unprecedented year ended with social unrest being bailed out.

This activity must be managed by retailers with maximum efficiency, oversight, and predictability. My company links chains such as Best Buy, Kohl’s and Nike with contractors who do their cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. Senior leaders told me that they are myopically focused to reduce costs while still providing the best customer experience.

Although it’s now a cliché to talk about data, smart brands are relying on that to reduce costs and optimize their planning for 2021. It’s not the time to manage facilities “by feeling” or in an ad-hoc fashion.

These are just a few of the many ways that retailers we work together use data to fortify their businesses in 2021


There are many ways to benchmark costs so you can ensure that you’re not paying too much for technicians, cleaners, and carpenters. These include benchmarking against peers and internal comparisons across regions.

If 40 percent of your facility spend is for cleaning and sanitation, but your peers are only spending 20 percent, then you must understand why. How do you mix your trade spending and what causes deviations from the normal? This could indicate that you are wasting your money.

Fair rates should be a concern for contractors. It is worth comparing providers in different cities or states. Hourly rates are misleading as some providers can resolve problems much faster than others. How much time was actually spent and what does the invoice show? Our research shows that hourly rates are not always associated with lower costs.

Performance Management

It is important to provide quality service. It is the difference between a parking garage being closed for repairs for two days or one for a week. What are the performance standards of your contractors? Are you able to identify and manage the 10% of contractors who show up late?

Are contractors on-time and do they complete the work promised? Smart devices can provide data that shows who arrived when and how long they were on the job. This data is crucial for compliance, as well as performance management.

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The pandemic has made compliance more difficult than ever. Some retailers are now facing lawsuits for COVID-19 exposure at work. To reduce liability exposure, sanitation must be done correctly. This means that you need to have the data trail.

To prove that the store was cleaned properly before an employee fell ill, could you create a work order for New York’s second week of May? This data can be a huge help in the future.

Faster Claims

Tensions between the insurance industry and the retail sector are high due to a record hurricane season, social unrest damage, and claims related the shutdown. Century 21 claims that its insurer failed to comply with its business interruption policy. These disputes often end up in court.

An audit trail can help you avoid disputes and get paid quicker if you file a claim. Insurers require proof that repairs were done when and where they are claimed. You should have all invoices.

Budgeting and Planning

Planning for 2021 requires all the support possible from accounting teams. COVID-19 expenses can be sequestered from the normal run-rate cost to allow you to budget accurately and categorize your spending.

A detailed view of maintenance and repair costs is also a benefit to accounting teams. What were the COVID-related expenses? These costs can be decreased this year. Facilities spending can be managed and controlled by having detailed work orders information.

Approvals Automation

Many teams have to do more with less. Your staff can focus on the important things by automating routine tasks. Machine learning can be applied to historical data to allow work orders to automatically be approved as they are received. A work order that is within the budget of previous costs should not require manual attention. Data allows understaffed teams to focus on the exceptions, freeing up time for more pressing work.

Although I believe the retail industry will emerge stronger from the storm, it is going to take discipline and a plan to run the business efficiently in 2021. Data management will be a key part of this.


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