As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates, Richfield-based Best Buy has decided to temporarily close its stores aside from curbside pickup starting Sunday.
The electronics chain has also now suspended all in-home installations and repairs.
Earlier this week, Best Buy said it would keep its stores open, but would restrict access to only 10 to 15 customers at one time starting next week for at least two weeks. But that plan changed as the week went on.
“The situation we’re facing as a company and as individuals is unprecedented and changing at a pace all of us are working to keep up with,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said in a statement. “We are making the best decisions we can with two goals in mind: protecting employees, customers and their respective families, while trying our best to serve the millions of Americans who rely on us for increasingly vital technology.”
Through curbside pickup, customers will be able to pick orders purchased online or through the retailer’s app. Customers who are unable to place an online order can also use curbside to see if a product is in stock in the store and employees can go inside the store to get it, the company said.
It is not clear how long the curbside-only service will last.
While some employees have been questioning why Best Buy has remained open while many other retailers have closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the company has emphasized that it provides a number of “necessities” such as technology that allows people to work and learn from home as well as appliances to prepare and store food.
“We are seeing a surge in demand across the country for products that people need to work or learn from home, as well as those products that allow people to refrigerate or freeze food,” Barry said.
The company added that recent such sales increases means that it is ahead of its plan for the quarter. But because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is withdrawing all of its guidance it gave last month for the current quarter and the full year. A number of other retailers have done the same in recent days.
While grocery stores as well as other retailers such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Walgreens remain open, albeit often with reduced hours, many nonessential stores such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney temporarily closed stores this week as well as some, but not all, shopping malls.
As Best Buy closes its stores except for curbside pickup, Best Buy will have lower staffing in stores and is paying employees for two weeks at their normal wage rate even if their hours have been eliminated. In addition, the company said employees who don’t feel comfortable working don’t have to come in and will also still be paid.
Best Buy also noted that customers can still buy products online and have them shipped to their homes. Large products such as appliances will be delivered in areas where that is still permitted, but everything will be left by the customer’s door.
On Saturday, the company said it has also drawn the full amount of its $1.25 billion revolving credit facility to increase its cash position and flexibility and has suspended all share repurchases.