By getting rid of the brick-and-mortar stores, the goal over the next year is to focus on "a more seamless, personalized and franchise-focused ecommerce experience through its shopDisney platform."
Disney store
Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

Disney retail is pivoting to online.

The company will be shuttering at least 60 North American retail stores as part of a shift toward e-commerce, it was announced Wednesday.

By getting rid of the brick-and-mortar stores, the goal over the next year is to focus on "a more seamless, personalized and franchise-focused e-commerce experience through its shopDisney platform."

"While consumer behavior has shifted toward online shopping, the global pandemic has changed what consumers expect from a retailer," Stephanie Young, president, Consumer Products Games and Publishing said in a statement.

She continued, "Over the past few years, we've been focused on meeting consumers where they are already spending their time, such as the expansion of Disney store shop-in-shops around the world. We now plan to create a more flexible, interconnected e-commerce experience that gives consumers easy access to unique, high-quality products across all our franchises."

There are around 300 Disney retail stores worldwide, with approximately 200 located in North America, according to the company. The closures will cut Disney's in-person retail presence in the U.S. and Canada by around 25 percent. It's not clear how many jobs will be lost due to the move.

A Touch of Disney – Food and Beverage Festival
Credit: Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resorts; David Nguyen/Disneyland Resort

Many of the company's in-person experiences have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, including retail, park experiences, and cruise lines.

While Walt Disney World in Orlando has been open at a limited capacity with mask mandates and distancing restrictions since July, the original park in Anaheim, California, has been subject to stricter state guidelines, making for a rocky and uncertain road to reopening. Initial plans to welcome guests back were set over the summer, but those were quickly dashed when restrictions continued due to a rise in coronavirus cases in the region.

In November, Disneyland was able to open a portion of its California Adventure park for in-person shopping and dining only, but had to close in-person dinning just weeks later as cases again were rising in the L.A. area.

Now, Disneyland has taken a new approach with "A Touch of Disney," a ticketed, limited-capacity food festival at Disney's California Adventure that will begin on March 18. 

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In February, Disney announced its cruise ships will remain docked until at least June.

An updated travel alert stated that all sailings have been canceled through the end of May as the company continues to "refine our protocols and await further technical guidance from the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]."

The ships are also affected by where they depart from and visit. Disney Magic's European itineraries, for example, will remain on pause through Aug. 10, the company said. While Disney Wonder's sailing season remains up in the air due to restrictions from the Canadian government. The ships Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will set sail on June 4 and 2, respectively.