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Best Buy will let you back in some of its stores, by appointment only

Brian Sozzi

Best Buy may be giving a glimpse into how many retailers will reopen their stores post the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Or more precisely, how retailers should reopen their stores — with 100% focus on crowd control, social distancing and cleanliness.

The electronics retailer said Tuesday afternoon that starting in early May it will begin reopening 200 stores, by appointment only. Best Buy says the move is designed for the purchase of more complex items such as appliances and networking equipment.

Best Buy has not changed its decision to temporarily furlough 51,000 hourly workers, which went into effect on April 19. The company’s more than 1,000 U.S. stores have been closed for customers — other than for curbside pickup — since March 22 to help flatten the coronavirus infection curve.

Best Buy’s website has continued to be open for business.

“Now, a month later, the world has learned much more about the virus, and we’ve taken the time to build what we believe are the right processes, acquire the right equipment, and create the right employee training. In short, we believe we’ve learned how to perform essential work in your home safely, for both you and our employees,” said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry in a letter going out to customers soon obtained by Yahoo Finance. 

How the appointment process works:

  • Appointment made online or via phone.

  • There is a pre-call with customers to make sure they aren’t feeling sick.

  • A detailed check-in process before each appointment where the sales associate walks through safety guidelines for the shopper. Hand sanitizer provided. Best Buy worker wears face masks and gloves.

  • The customer shops the store with the sales associate, employing social distancing guidelines.

  • Payment done at a counter with a sneeze guard in front of the register. All surfaces cleaned after the transaction is completed.

  • Customer escorted out of the store.

Welcome to the new age of retail.

NEW YORK, NY - March 29: MANDATORY CREDIT Bill Tompkins/Getty Images Best Buy closed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on March 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

Here’s the full letter being sent out by Best Buy CEO Corie Barry.

“I genuinely hope you and your family are staying safe and feeling well. We all know the world continues to react to an unprecedented pandemic, and I wanted to update you on the ways in which Best Buy is evolving to meet our customers’ vital technology and appliance needs. Just as importantly, I want to share a big step forward in how we are now able to better serve you in your home.  

Across the country—in virtually every city, county and state in which there is a stay-at-home order—we have been designated an “essential” retailer. This means the products we sell, from the equipment you need to work or learn from home to the appliances you need to care for your family at home, are considered critical as so many of us continue to engage in some form of self-quarantine. In our view, however, the conversation is now starting to move from what it means to be an “essential” retailer, to what it means to be a “safe” retailer.   

It was with safety in mind that more than a month ago we suspended the part of our business that typically works in customers’ homes more than a million times a year. We did this despite being designated essential and even as others continued to deliver, install and repair in homes. Simply put, we made this decision because we could not look our employees—or you—in the eye and say we knew fully how to do this work safely. 

Now, a month later, the world has learned much more about the virus, and we’ve taken the time to build what we believe are the right processes, acquire the right equipment, and create the right employee training. In short, we believe we’ve learned how to perform essential work in your home safely, for both you and our employees. 

As a result, we are pleased to announce that we are returning to the kind of in-home work many customers have been asking for—the kind that fixes what’s broken, installs what’s missing, and improves the very technology we all need now more than ever. Our employees will follow new safety guidelines before, during and after an in-home visit that meet or exceed CDC guidance. These requirements will apply equally to any third party entering your home on our behalf. 

To learn more about this process, including the use of protective equipment, social distancing practices and employee self-health checks, we invite you to watch this brief video. As you would expect, we will not offer this service in communities where local governments ask us not to or where, in our view, things are not as safe as we require. 

Elsewhere at Best Buy, our contactless curbside service has been operating for about a month, and in that time we have helped many of you pick up your products within an hour of placing an online order. Many more have had their orders sent to their homes, with most arriving within two days. In both cases, all our precautions are consistent with federal health and safety guidelines and in keeping with our determination to be as safe as we possibly can. 

Finally, a great number of people have taken advantage of our ability to troubleshoot and repair their technology remotely, using virtual tools that allow us to help from afar. So many Americans have been trying to create an effective office-like experience in their home or use technology to enable remote learning for their children. No matter the challenge, we can help you. You only have to go to Geek Squad remote support. 

Looking ahead, we are planning how we will begin welcoming customers back into a number of our stores across the country. At some point soon, we will invite customers to shop Best Buy in person, in innovative ways that follow strict social distancing practices and use proper protective equipment. Any in-store shopping experience will initially be by appointment only, and we look forward to bringing this experience to some of you soon. 

Please know that we remain committed to helping you stay connected to the people and things that matter to you the most. My hope for you and your loved ones is that you remain safe, and that together we see the other side of this crisis soon. 

Corie Barry

CEO, Best Buy”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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