In mid-June 2021, a rumor claimed that all Disney Store retail shops would be closing in the U.K., with the exception of a flagship location in London. Some versions of the rumor said that the stores would be gone by September.
The news was reported as a “rumor” by WDW News Today and other blogs.
It’s true that multiple Disney Stores are closing in the U.K. However, we’re waiting for official confirmation about the rumor before assigning it a definitive rating.
We also found multiple individual reports of Disney Stores closing in the U.K.
On May 27, TheIndustry.fashion brought news that the Westfield Stratford location was not to reopen. On the same day, it was also reported that a location in the U.S. was closing. “Lexington was home to the only remaining Disney store in Kentucky. Now it’s closing,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
On June 15, the Sunderland Echo said that the Sunderland Disney Store was closing in the U.K.
On June 16, the Southern Daily Echo reported that the Disney Store in the Marlands Centre in Southampton had closed for good.
And on June 21, York Mix published that the prominent York Disney Store would close as well.
The photograph above shows the York store in 2017, with credit to Matthew King.
Disney Store History
The Disney Store is a retail shop filled with Disney clothing, toys, and other merchandise.
The first location opened in Glendale, California, in 1987, years before online shopping became the norm. AllEars.net, a Disney blog, reported that the original Disney Store would “cease operations on or before July 14.”
We decided to take a look back at the early days of the Disney Store. We found an article in the Fort Lauderdale News from Dec. 26, 1987. It reported on the initial success of the first store in Glendale.
After casting about for new ways to boost profits by exploiting its popular cartoon characters, Disney entered the competitive retailing market in March with the opening of the first Disney Store in Glendale Galleria mall.
Based on the success of the pilot store, the company opened two others in California – one in Costa Mesa and one in San Francisco – and both have done well, [Stephen] Burke, [the company’s vice president for retailing] said.
The three current stores should post revenue of $2 million each this year.
The Glendale store where workers wear badges identifying them as “cast members” and overhead television monitors continuously carry the Disney Channel and Disney videos, carries 2,800 items ranging from 50-cent Mickey Mouse erasers to statues and jewelry costing more than $3,000.
The stores are not expected to be major contributors to Disney’s bottom line. The company earned $444.7 million for the year ended Sept. 30. But the retail venture is expected to help promote Disney’s other businesses – namely theme parks, television programs, and movies.
We reached out to Disney for more on Disney Store locations closing in the U.K. In response, they referred us to a March 2021 announcement that said the company planned to “significantly reduce its brick-and-mortar footprint, beginning with the closure of at least 60 [Disney] stores in North America this year.” However, the release did not confirm or deny the rumor about U.K. locations.