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Retail Industry Updates

COVID-19 Hasn’t Bested Best Buy

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Pandemic? What pandemic?

The coronavirus has not bested Best Buy, which announced that its second-quarter sales — from May 2 through July 18 — increased 2.5% from the same period in 2019, and that sales soared 15% through July 18 compared to last year since stores began reopening June 15.

That’s not all. Minneapolis-based Best Buy said online sales increased a whopping 255% in the second quarter compared to the prior year, thanks to a surging demand in the computer, appliance and tablet categories. And online sales have maintained their strength since stores reopened — they were up 185% from June 15 through July 18 compared to the same period in 2019.

The beneficiaries of Best Buy’s success are its U.S. employees, who will begin receiving $15 an hour beginning Aug. 2.

“Strong consumer demand, combined with shopping experiences that emphasize safety and convenience, has helped produce our sales results to date,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said in a statement. “None of this would be possible without the effort and energy of our front-line employees working in stores, supply chain facilities and customers’ homes. The announcement on pay reflects an ongoing evolution and investment in how we compensate them for their critical work and is the result of clear and consistent feedback from field employees across the country.”

On April 19, Best Buy temporarily furloughed about 51,000 U.S. hourly store employees, including nearly all part-time employees. At that time, the company retained about 82% of its full-time store and field employees on its payroll.

On June 15, the company began bringing employees back from furlough, and about half of the 51,000 hourly employees have returned from furlough so far. The company has extended health benefits at no cost through Sept. 5 to the remaining furloughed employees currently enrolled in a Best Buy health plan.

Beginning Aug. 2, Best Buy is evolving its pay structure. Driven by employee feedback and to provide more predictability in pay, a 4% increase in hourly rate will replace short-term incentive compensation for hourly store employees below the leadership level. After the 4% hourly pay increase, employees who are not yet at $15 per hour will have their pay increased to the $15 per hour starting wage, the company said.

Best Buy began allowing customers to shop without an appointment at more than 800 stores across the U.S. on June 15. As of June 22, almost all of the company’s stores were open for shopping.

The company has also continued to offer contactless curbside pickup and in-store consultations for those who prefer to shop that way. Throughout this entire time period and across all the ways customers can shop, the company said it has continued to adhere to safety protocols that limit capacity, follow strict social distancing practices and use proper protective equipment.

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