Photo: Best Buy
Customers returned to recently reopened Best Buy stores in the second quarter while continuing to place online orders at record levels for the consumer electronics chain. The retailer has also made an important connection between its frontline workers and sales performance – demonstrating that taking care of one will ensure good results in the other.
Best Buy released preliminary numbers for its second quarter earlier this week, reporting that sales rose 2.5 percent overall (two percent in the U.S.) and that online sales were up 255 percent year-over-year.
The consumer electronics chain, which first began opening stores to customers by appointment in mid-June with enhanced safety protocols, has continued to experience heavy demand for contactless curbside pickup of online orders.
“Strong consumer demand, combined with shopping experiences that emphasize safety and convenience, has helped produce our sales results to date,” said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry in a statement. “None of this would be possible without the effort and energy of our frontline employees working in stores, supply chain facilities and customers’ homes.”
In recognition of the contributions made by employees to its relative success in the middle of a pandemic, Best Buy announced that it is bringing back roughly half the 51,000 employees, mostly part-timers, that it furloughed when it had to close stores to customers. When the furloughs took effect in April, Best Buy extended healthcare coverage to all furloughed workers enrolled in its plan through Sept. 5.
The retailer, which kept 82 percent of its full-time store staff and field employees on the payroll even as it closed its locations to the public, also made news by announcing that it is raising its starting wage for hourly workers to $15 beginning on Aug. 2. Workers in non-leadership roles making at least $15 an hour will receive a four percent increase as the chain ends temporary bonuses it has been paying in recent months.
Ms. Barrie said the decision to raise wages for frontline workers “reflects an ongoing evolution and investment in how we compensate them for their critical work.” She added, “In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, we made a number of temporary decisions, including providing appreciation pay to hourly field employees, and we’re now pleased to evolve to a more structural approach that significantly invests in paying and supporting them in ways that they have asked for and so clearly earned.”