Don't count on gift cards to retain their value after a business goes under.
Toys R Us continued to honor gift cards after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, but when the company announced on Thursday that it will close or sell all of its U.S. stores, a spokesperson told USA Today that the company would only accept the cards for the next 30 days. That means that, as of about April 14, gift cards to the store will be worthless, so customers need to act fast.
The toy distributor is the latest business to announce that it is liquidating its U.S. operations. In 2017, over 20 retailers filed for bankruptcy. J.C. Penney, RadioShack and Macy's all announced that they would be closing 100 stores. Sears did the same this past January, and 16,000 former employees are now expecting a reduction in their pensions.
The so-called "retail apocalypse" is largely the result of e-commerce, experts think, though developers also may have built an unsustainable number of malls in the second half of the 20th century. Plus, there are indications that Americans are less materialistic than they once were. Consumers are buying less clothing now compared to the '90s, for example.