Best Buy closing stores, switching to curbside service due to coronavirus

Additionally, employees don't have to work if they don't feel comfortable.
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Things will be looking a lot different at — or, rather, outside — your local Best Buy as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. 

On Saturday, the Richfield-based retailer announced it will be "shifting to enhanced curbside service only for all of its stores on an interim basis," meaning its brick-and-mortar locations will be closed to customers until it's safe to stop social distancing. 

The curbside pickups — which allow customers to collect items they buy online or through the Best Buy app — will begin on Sunday, March 22, according to a press release from the company. 

In-home installation and repair have also been suspended; however, deliveries of appliances and equipment will continue "where permitted and under strict safety guidelines with everything being left by the customer’s door."

Best Buy notes that the closings will be in effect "except where otherwise directed by state and local authorities," so it's possible there could be exceptions to the policy in certain areas (check with your local store to be sure).

CEO Corie Barry says the move allows Best Buy to address coronavirus concerns while "providing products people need":

We are seeing a surge in demand across the country for products that people need to work or learn from home, as well as those products that allow people to refrigerate or freeze food. As we meet the demand for these necessities, we are adjusting how we operate in many ways to improve safety.

As for the employees, they've been given the option not to work "if they do not feel comfortable," and told to stay home if they're feeling sick, "knowing they will be paid."

In addition, "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 says.

The coronavirus crisis has so far had varying effects throughout the retail sector, with some chains shutting down entirely while others remain open, albeit with significant changes to the way they do business. 

Non-essential retail operations, such as those found in malls, have been impacted most heavily, with USA Today noting that Macy's, Sephora, Nordstrom, H&M, DSW, Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren and Apple stores have all temporarily closed.

Malls themselves have also largely gone dark, with Simon Property Group — America's largest mall operator — shutting down its 200+ shopping centers across the country this past week.

As Forbes reports, the move is "expected to trigger more mass mall closings across the country."

(Minnesota's own Mall of America on Tuesday announced it would be closing for two weeks.)

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