Despite surging sales and demand, Best Buy, the American multinational consumer electronics retail company, is planning to eliminate 5,000 full-time positions. It intends to replace these full-timers with 2,000 part-time workers. This is because customers are increasingly turning to online purchase — of televisions, laptops and other electronic gadgets— instead of visiting stores physically.
Best Buy had to furlough many of its employees following closure of stores during the pandemic. Its staff has reduced by 21,000, that is, about 17 per cent. The current strength is 100,000.
In line with the times, the employees are being reskilled to handle online orders. With less people walking into stores, the space that is spared is being used to get orders ready for shipment or pickup, as part of a system wherein orders placed online are picked up from the parking lot or curbside. The online sales for Best Buy spiked 89 per cent in the November 2020 – January 2021 period, compared to the same time in 2019-20. With revenue growing 11 per cent and profits rising 10 per cent, it made profits to the tune of $816 million.
Some employees have submitted a petition online demanding that Best Buy provide compensation to the employees who lost wages or faced pay cuts during the pandemic across hundreds of stores, when their work hours were reduced drastically. These anxious workers had suffered mental trauma, not just because their income was reduced by up to 40 per cent, but because they had no clue whether the cuts would be for good amidst all the uncertainty surrounding them. The lack of clear communication has been stressing them out.
However, Best Buy had maintained that it was not fair to demand pay for hours that the workers had not worked; that retailers, generally, adjust the headcount according to the demand.