PJ MEDIA – SUSAN L.M. GOLDBERG
If you’re a parent, you’ve had at least one passing discussion on the closure of Toys R Us. The mega-giant toy chain that ruled the childhoods of many of today’s parents is shuttering nearly 200 stores this month. While bankruptcy is the official reason, it isn’t the only or perhaps even the biggest reason why Geoffrey the Giraffe is being sent to the big zoo in the sky: Debt. Competition from online retailers like Amazon, as well as cheaper big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Yes, bad customer service, too. All of these are the most commonly cited reasons for the ultimate failure of Toys R Us. But, hidden within their press release on the bankruptcy is a reason rooted in cultural trends, the stuff that ultimately makes or breaks economic indicators:
The decrease of birthrates in countries where we operate could negatively affect our business. Most of our end-customers are newborns and children and, as a result, our revenue are dependent on the birthrates in countries where we operate. In recent years, many countries’ birthrates have dropped or stagnated as their population ages, and education and income levels increase. A continued and significant decline in the number of newborns and children in these countries could have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
In other words, Americans just aren’t having enough kids to justify the existence of that many toy stores.