Big changes coming for Best Buy

June 23, 2011 4:51:45 PM PDT
A tough economy is forcing another big box retailer to change the way it does business. This time, it's Best Buy, one of the few national big box electronic stores to survive the slow economy. It plans to make stores smaller by cutting retail space. When it comes to electronics stores, Bridgette Pope picks Best Buy. Pope says she makes regular stops to the big box retailer.

"Maybe twice a month for all our digital needs, computers," she said. "We bought computers, big screen TVs in there."

While Pope remains loyal to the store, other shoppers are increasingly turning to the internet for the very things Best Buy offers. Now the retailer is planning to cut its floor space by subleasing parts of its stores to other businesses.

Consumers worry that it will mean fewer choices, but understand why it's happening.

"They said they were cutting down on their music and different things like that," said shopper Stephen Dove. "To me, most people do online shopping anyway. So I guess that is what the world is going to right now."

New Best Buys will be smaller than current versions by about 10,000 square feet. Those still standing will wall off parts of the stores and sub lease space to small retailers.

"I think this is a trend we are seeing among big box stores, and shrinkage of space," said Jacqueline Kacen with the University of Houston Bauer College of Business.

Kacen says online sales are only part of the reason why big box stores may be downsizing. Competition from discount stores also plays a part.

Kacen does not think the move by Best Buy will limit consumer choices.

"I don't see it as being fewer choices for consumers, different retailing experiences and different retailing options, but the products will still be available, just through different outlets," she said.

Another problem for stores like Best Buy is that Apple and Microsoft are opening their own stores for consumers to buy directly from them.

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