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Best Buy Formulates Curb Pickup System To Capitalize On Demand Surge

The grocery sector and giant retailers like Walmart and Amazon aren't the only retailers seeing a surge in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Office supply and electronics retailers are also experiencing a increasing demand as consumers establish or upgrade home offices for the duration. Best Buy Corp., a major U.S. player in the physical retail electronics space, has pivoted to curbside pickup-only at its stores to capitalize on new demand for goods to outfit home offices.

Customers lined up to pick up goods bought at Best Buy.

Starting on Sunday, customers are temporarily barred from entering stores, but employees will bring goods out to cars waiting in line. The service covers items ordered at the company website, through the Best Buy app or over the phone, according to Best Buy.

Once customers make an order specifying curbside pickup, the company sends them an email to provide instructions on where to park and how to let the store know they have arrived. Best Buy employees then put the order in customers' trunks, so there is no violation of social distancing.

“We believe Best Buy is better off [than] most retailers in the current environment for several reasons, not the least of which is that they sell products that consumers want in the new virus world,” Instinet said in a Tuesday note, as reported by MarketWatch.

Before the novel coronavirus, electronics sales at physical stores had been seeing sluggish growth or even contraction. In January, for instance, before the dire impact of the outbreak became obvious, sales at electronics retail stores dropped 0.5% compared with December, and 3.2% compared with the same month in 2019, according to the Census Bureau.

Going forward, electronics stores generally fall under the category of essential as states and localities order retail closures. That compares favorably with the sour fate of most clothing or department stores, which are usually deemed nonessential and thus are shut.

In Virginia, for instance, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the closure of nonessential retail on Tuesday. A long list of essential retail is to remain open, including "electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology."