After initially keeping its stores open amid high demand for electronics items and appliances such as freezers, refrigerators and home office equipment, Best Buy officially is closing all its locations. Citing concerns about the health of its employees due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the retailer will shift exclusively to contactless curbside pickup service at its stores “on an interim basis.”
Best Buy originally intended to keep stores open by limiting hours and restricting the number of customers in each store to 10 to 15 at a time, starting March 23. To encourage social distancing, an employee would have escorted a shopper to find a specific item, while maintaining the recommended distance of six feet.
The decision to offer curbside pickup comes as retailers figure out more ways to safely connect consumers with products. As retailers continue to encourage social distancing efforts, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Books-A-Million and Michaels all have recently implemented some form of curbside pickup for orders placed online.
Best Buy shoppers also can still order online, or on the Best Buy app, and have their products shipped directly to their homes. If a customer is unable to place an online order, they can go to the store and have an employee go inside to check availability.
Large products such as appliances will be delivered where permitted and under strict safety guidelines, with everything being left by the customer’s door. All in-home installation and repair has been temporarily suspended and will be rescheduled, and all in-home consultations are being conducted virtually.
Switching to curbside and delivery only services will mean Best Buy needs fewer employees working at a time, but the company has committed to paying employees for two weeks even if their hours are cut. “All field employees whose hours have been eliminated will be paid for two weeks at their normal wage rate based on their average hours worked over the last 10 weeks,” the company said in a statement.
Hobby Lobby Will Keep Stores Open Despite ‘Non-Essential’ Status, CEO Attributes Decision To Prayer
On the other end of the spectrum, Hobby Lobby is reportedly leaving its stores open during the pandemic despite its status as an arts and crafts retailer, which classified it as a “non-essential” business.
Though the company wrote in a note on its web site that if a worker exhibits symptoms it “will send that employee for medical care to self-isolate at home,” it did not state if these employees would be eligible for paid sick leave. According to the company’s 2017 benefits summary guide, its most recently available public document on benefits, only salaried employees are eligible for paid sick leave, leaving hourly workers without protection in the face of the coronavirus.
In a note to employees shared on Twitter, Hobby Lobby CEO David Green cites divine intervention as justification for keeping the stores open, specifically pointing out that his wife Barbara Green received a message from God during prayer.
“While we do not know for certain what the future holds, or how long this disruption will last, we can all rest in knowing that God is in control,” Green wrote in the note. “The company’s leaders are doing all they can to balance the need to keep the company strong and the need of employees. To help ensure our company remains strong and prepared to prosper once again when this passes, we may all have to ‘tighten our belts’ over the near future.'”