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Best Buy reports strong sales; raising starting wage

Best Buy Co. is on a roll, with its total second-quarter sales to date up over last year despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

The consumer electronics giant said that quarterly sales increased about 2.5% May 2 through July 18, compared to the year-ago period. Quarterly online sales have surged 255% so far, driven by sales of computers, appliances and tablets. The retailer said online sales have remained strong even as it reopened stores starting in June.

Best Buy also said that in place of the pay incentives it gave employees through the pandemic, it is raising the starting wage for all domestic employees by 4%, to $15 per hour, effective Aug. 2.

“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. “None of this would be possible without the effort and energy of our front-line employees working in stores, supply chain facilities and customers’ homes.”

The pay increase, which Best Buy said was driven by “extensive employee feedback, and to provide more predictability in pay,” will replace short-term incentive compensation for hourly store employees below the leadership level. After the 4% hourly pay increase, employees who are not yet at $15 per hour will have their pay increased to the $15 per hour starting wage.

In mid-April, Best Buy temporarily furloughed about 51,000 hourly store employees, including nearly all part-time workers.  Approximately 82% of its full-time store and field employees on its payroll, including the vast majority of in-home advisors and Geek Squad agents, remained on the payroll.

On June 15, the company began bringing furloughed employees back and about half of the 51,000 hourly employees have returned so far. 

Best Buy said it has extended health benefits at no cost through Sept. 5 to the remaining furloughed employees currently enrolled in a Best Buy health plan.

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