Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Best Buy Lays Off 5,000 Workers As Demand For Its Online Retail Booms

(Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Best Buy laid off about 5,000 employees earlier this month as the electronics retailer focuses more on online sales. 

COVID-19 forced many of the company’s big box stores to temporarily close in 2020. However, demand for Best Buy’s online sales channels has been booming. 

During this past fourth quarter, the company’s online sales grew almost 90 percent year-over-year. The e-commerce buys also accounted for 43 percent of the Best Buy’s total domestic sales during the period. 

“In Q4, first time launches of the (Best Buy) app were up almost 80%,” added company CEO Corrie Barry in an earning’s call

Despite the online sales boom, the company still sees its big box stores as an asset. The retail locations were actually key to fulfilling many of its e-commerce orders through curbside pick-up, and same-day deliveries.

“The percent of online sales picked up by customers at our stores was 48%,” Barry said. “For additional context, same-day shipping volume was up 376% and our employees delivered more than 1 million units.”

Nevertheless, COVID-19 forced Best Buy to shed a chunk of its workforce in 2020. When the pandemic began, the company furloughed approximately 51,000 retail employees, some of whom later came back, while others departed for good. 

As a result, the company now has about 102,000 workers, for a decline of about 21,000 before the pandemic started.

According to Best Buy’s CEO, it’s inevitable more consumers will be shopping online even after the US recovers from the pandemic. “Customer shopping behavior will be permanently changed in a way that is even more digital and puts customers entirely in control to shop how they want,” Barry said. “Our strategy is to embrace that reality and to lead, not follow.”

Although the company laid off about 5,000 employees, many of them full-time, Barry said Best Buy has been adding another 2,000 part-time positions.



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