Best Buy to Furlough 51,000 Employees as Stores Remain Closed During Pandemic

Best Buy has announced plans to furlough roughly 51,000 hourly employees, due to stay-at-home orders many states have enacted during the coronavirus pandemic. The news comes as Best Buy continues to keep its stores closed to customers, but is offering curbside service at some stores. Best Buy CEO Corie Barry issued a video statement to employees on Wednesday, revealing the company's plans.

"The situation we are all facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is truly unprecedented," Barry said. "As we previously communicated, we made the decision for the health and safety of our customers and employees to shift our stores to a temporary enhanced curbside service-only model starting March 22. At that time, we also suspended all in-home delivery, installation and repairs. I am so incredibly proud of our teams' execution – they seamlessly implemented a new and highly effective operating model in a matter of 48 hours across our entire store base."

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Barry continued: "We are fulfilling essential technology needs for customers in a safe and innovative way, including continuing to provide remote technical advice and support. This time of working, learning, cooking, entertaining and, importantly, connecting across the country from home only underscores our strategy and purpose: to enrich lives through technology. We have retained approximately 70% of our sales1 compared to last year since moving to our enhanced curbside service model despite the fact that all our Domestic stores are closed to customer traffic and approximately 40 of them, particularly in the Northeast, have been completely closed to all business for at least 10 days at our discretion. This is a testament to the strength of our multi-channel capabilities – as our Domestic online sales are up over 250% and approximately 50% of these sales are from customers choosing to pick up their products at our stores since moving to our curbside service model."

She went on to say, "The situation remains very fluid and there is still a great deal of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to depth and duration of store closures and consumer confidence over time. We are taking the steps necessary to resume providing our customers in-home services in the near future, keeping in mind our overriding priority on the safety of our employees and customers. We are also preparing to re-open stores to customers as soon as it is safe to do so, with timing likely to vary at state and local levels." Barry then concluded her message by saying, "In the meantime, as you would expect, we are focused on making the difficult decisions necessary to ensure that at the end of this crisis Best Buy remains a strong, vibrant company."