Best Buy furloughing 51K workers
© Getty

Best Buy will furlough about 51,000 hourly employees in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic, the retailer announced Wednesday.

The electronics retailer saw a drop in sales of approximately 5 percent in the first two months of the current fiscal quarter, below the national average slide of 8.7 percent in March, Reuters reported.

Some employees at the corporate level will also be voluntarily furloughed and participate in voluntary reduced work weeks beginning next week, the company added. The company board and senior management will take a pay cut.

ADVERTISEMENT

The company said it will retain about 82 percent of full-time store and field staff, according to the news service. Like most other businesses, Best Buy has closed physical locations to stem the spread of the virus but implemented a curbside delivery model, saying sales grew by about 25 percent in the eight-day period ending March 20, the day before the company announced curbside delivery.

Domestic online sales are up 250 percent from a year ago, Best Buy said, but overall sales are down 30 percent between March 21 and April 11. After closures, the company saw a surge in demand for devices needed to work from home and gaming equipment as well as products used to freeze food.

“The situation remains very fluid and there is still a great deal of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to depth and duration of store closures and consumer confidence over time,” CEO Corie Barry said, according to Reuters.

The company has about 125,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. as of the end of fiscal 2020.

Numerous other retailers and companies have announced furloughs due to closures and other social distancing measures in recent weeks, including Macy’s, Disney World, Yelp, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Honda, Nissan and Sea World.