Both Disney Stores in Indiana among those chosen for closure

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Walt Disney Co. plans to close both Disney Stores in Indiana, including one in Indianapolis, as part of its plan to close more than 60 stores in North American, eliminating roughly 20% of its global footprint, as it focuses more on e-commerce.

The company on Wednesday disclosed about 40 of the 60 stores that will cease operations. The chain’s online store locator says the Disney Store in Castleton Square Mall and the store in Southlake Mall in Merrillville will close on or before March 23.

The company has about 300 Disney stores now, a number that has shrunk dramatically over the years as the world’s largest entertainment company experimented with different ways to get its merchandise to fans.

As part of a push to rely less on its own brick-and-mortar shops, Disney has made its website more consumer-friendly and opened boutiques within other retailers. Including stores in its theme parks and those owned by others, the company has about 600 retail locations globally. Disney is also evaluating the shutdown of European stores as it rethinks its retail strategy.

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

Disney is one of the world’s largest licensing companies. But sales at its merchandise licensing and retail business fell 7% last year to $4.18 billion, in large part due to store closures related to the pandemic.

The Disney chain debuted in 1987, and the stores were once a staple of U.S. shopping malls. At one point, Disney sold its North American locations to the Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc., a kid-focused retailer, before taking them back after the business suffered financial problems. More recently, it added new features to some locations, such as live broadcasts of parades from Disney parks.

The company didn’t say how many jobs would be affected.

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