Best Buy lays off workers, cuts hours despite record sales and stock price

The retail chain restructuring plan was rolled out today, weeks after laying off workers who were furloughed then brought back on for seasonal work

Retail chain Best Buy began rolling out layoffs across its stores in the US on February 10 as part of its ‘Enterprise Strategy.

The latest round of layoffs comes weeks after several employees were formally laid off after being furloughed at the start of the pandemic and recalled in October 2020 as seasonal hires. 

Lane Klumb worked as a sales specialist at Best Buy in Wisconsin on and off since 2012. On January 8 this year he was formally laid off after being one of many workers recalled from their furlough to a seasonal position in October 2020, with the possibility of a full-time position reopening for himself and other workers. 

His store hired several seasonal part-time employees, as Best Buy hired thousands of seasonal employees around the US ahead of the holiday shopping season. 

“After Black Friday we started seeing reductions in hours, and it only got worse as the holidays went on,” Klumb said. “I was cross trained in every department in the store and often had to take shifts in other departments to get hours and even so, I was averaging 16 hours a week as a full-time employee.” 

For his department, labor hours provided to employees were extremely limited, and Klumb noted hours kept getting cut for himself and other employees. After Christmas, he wasn’t scheduled any hours until formally being laid off on January 8. 

“The company is now boasting about their success and how much profit they've made recently and that's because during a time in which the store has been extraordinarily busy, they have given no labor. It's easy to show successful numbers when you're not paying people to run your stores,” Klumb added. 

While several retail big box chains have struggled during the pandemic, Best Buy has experienced surges in revenue and profits. Their most recent quarter was the retail chain’s best in 25 years and the company’s stock price hit a record high in August 2020. Based on sales, Best Buy was the 14th largest retailer in the US in 2020. 

Best Buy furloughed 51,000 employees in April 2020 due to coronavirus lockdowns, out of 125,000 total employees. By July 2020, Best Buy told the New York Times about half of furloughed employees were recalled. 

Their recent store reorganizing and layoffs of employees who were initially furloughed has been characterized by several employees as extensive labor cuts, including layoffs and schedule cuts. Some impacted workers have started a petition on Coworker for impacted full and part-time employees to be compensated for the reduction in work hours they’ve recently experienced at stores across the US. 

Dimitris Alexandrou worked at Best Buy in Nashua, New Hampshire since 2017. He was furloughed when coronavirus lockdowns occurred in March 2020, and brought back in October 2020 as a seasonal employee until he was laid off on January 6. 

“I was told I’d get severance within two pay periods and I’m still waiting. Unemployment is being held up so now I’m negative in my bank account with a new house to pay for and nothing to show for income,” said Alexandrou. “I’ve been utterly financially screwed and no answers from the store except it’s ‘in HR’s hands, there’s nothing we can do.’”

Best Buy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.