Best Buy Reverses Course, Closes Stores to Walk-In Customers

Best Buy, one of the top sellers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, has reversed course and is temporarily closing its stores to walk-in customers due to concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Across the country these past several days, you have come to our stores to buy the technology and household necessities that are so valuable at a time like this,” the company said in an emailed letter to customers March 21. “We remain determined to continue to serve you and are announcing today a new way of making our stores accessible while even further enhancing customer and employee safety.

“Beginning Sunday, March 22, we will offer contactless curbside service at all locations across the country where state or local laws allow. Rather than ask you to come into our stores, any items you order on or the Best Buy app will be delivered to your car curbside. If, for any reason, you didn’t order the product in advance and the product is in stock in the store, one of our employees will be more than happy to go get it in the store and sell it to you while you remain in your car. … Only employees will be allowed in the store, but we are determined to serve you as fully as we can.”

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The company says it is also suspending “currently scheduled installations, haul-aways or repairs for large items like refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and TVs.”

And beginning Monday, March 23, Best Buy says, “we will no longer deliver these large products into your home and will, instead, offer free doorstep delivery. This means we will take the item as close as we possibly can to the front door of your home without bringing it inside.”

Best Buy also said demand for consumer electronics used in the home has surged as workers and school children in many parts of the country are advised to work and study from home.

“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,” CEO Corie Barry said in a statement. Barry didn’t disclose the percentage increase in demand.

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Separately, Barry said that despite quarter-to-date sales being ahead of projections, Best Buy is pulling its full-year fiscal guidance because of the increased uncertainty related to the potential impacts of COVID-19 and resulting temporary changes in operations.

To bolster its cash position and maximize flexibility in the fluid environment, Best Buy on March 19 drew the full amount of its $1.25 billion revolving credit facility. This is in addition to the approximately $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents the company held. The company has also suspended all share repurchases.


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