Best Buy will be offering masks to customers who make in-store shopping appointments but will not require those patrons to wear them as it reopens 200 of its 1,000 locations nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic.
CEO Corie Barry told Craig Melvin on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday that all employees will wear masks and gloves, while customers will be encouraged to wear masks before coming to the store. Masks will then be available inside the store for them to wear if they choose.
Barry also said starting in those 200 locations Monday, there will be an "appointment only model," which means people can go online or walk up to the store to make an appointment.
Consumers will also have a previsit or call before the appointment with instructions on what to expect, and once it's time to go to the store, there will be a concierge, who will maintain appropriate social distance, for each visitor to guide them through the store.
Best Buy's large stores will allow employees to properly employ social distancing guidelines during the visit, according to Barry.
"When they come in the store, we have the unique ability to social distance in a way that's quite different, especially using this appointment model, and so we are not requiring (masks), but strongly encouraging,'' Barry said.
Best Buy's mask policy comes as many large retailers across the country, particularly grocery chains, are making decisions about either requiring them, recommending that people wear them or deferring to local and state policies concerning them. Large businesses like Costco, Whole Foods and JetBlue are now requiring them to be worn by customers.
Best Buy announced last week in an email to customers that it would be reopening 200 locations and allowing people to make appointments for in-store consultations as well as resuming home installations, delivery and repairs.
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Everything will be wiped down between visits, and there are sneeze guards in the checkout area, Barry said.
For services at customers' homes, employees will wear masks and gloves, explain the protocol beforehand, mark off a 6-foot distance and disinfect everything they touch.
Barry also addressed the future of the 51,000 employees furloughed by Best Buy in April.
"Right now, we are working to continue to create models that will allow us to safely open,'' she said. "We don't know yet when we'll ask those employees back, but our hope is we will be able to soon."
She believes two main areas will be the focus going forward for retailers as a result of the effects of the pandemic, starting with safety.
"We used to want our stores to be exciting,'' Barry said. "They've been replaced by the need for safety in our stores, and this will be prevalent across retail."
Giving customers multiple options to buy will also be crucial, according to Barry.
"Allowing our customers to choose based on their situation how they would like to interact with us,'' she said. "They might want to do touchless curbside, they might want it delivered, they might feel good about coming into a store. However our customers want to shop based on their experience and their life, we need to provide that for them."