PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The parking lot was nearly empty mid-day at the Toys R Us store in Robinson Township when shopper Nathan Lamoreau, of Clinton, picked up some action figures for his nephew and nieces.
“I buy as many toys for them as I can,” he told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
But that will become more difficult as the toy chain announced the closing of nearly 20 percent of its American stores, including at least four in the Pittsburgh region.
“I like retail locations,” says Lamoreau. “There’s always an online outlet for things, but it’s sometimes nice to have a close, local retail location you can go to in case of an emergency or just on short notice. It would disappoint me if they closed some stores for sure.”
In Pittsburgh, four stores will be closing: three Toys R Us stores in Monaca, at Ross Park Mall, and in Washington, and one Babies R Us store in Monroeville.
Remaining open will be Toys R Us stores in Bethel Park, Cranberry, Greensburg, Monroeville and Robinson.
The hand-writing has been on the wall ever since Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September.
And a poor Christmas season didn’t help.
U.S. sales were down 15 percent this season from a year ago.
Toys R Us also faces growing competition from toy departments at Walmart and Target.
So what happens to the employees who work at these Toys R Us stores?
Well, a company spokesman tells KDKA that about 25 employees work at each one of these stores. Some of them will be relocated. Most of them will end up with a severance package.
Because the chain is in bankruptcy court, all these closings will need to be approved by a judge.
But if all goes as planned, these selected stores will begin closing in February and be completed by the end of April.