Best Buy, GameStop limit stores to curbside pickup

COVID-19 has put an end to store walk-ins for now.

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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Two of the better-known tech retailers in the US have temporarily dropped in-store shopping in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 22nd, Best Buy and GameStop have limited shoppers to delivery and curbside pickup. At Best Buy, you'll get "enhanced curbside service" where you can not only pick up online orders, but ask store staff to fetch and sell products if you couldn't order them online. Delivery is still an option, although Best Buy has paused in-home installation and repair and will only drop off products at your door. You can still get in-home consultations during this scaled-back period, but you'll be limited to virtual help for now.

GameStop's move is unsurprisingly simpler given the products it sells: you're limited to conventional curbside pickup and online deliveries.

In both cases, the stores are taking better care of employes. Staff won't have to work if they aren't "comfortable" with coming in, and those who've lost their working hours will receive two weeks' pay based on a 10-week average. GameStop is also reimbursing benefit-eligible staff with a month of the employee portion of their benefit expenses.

The retail chains don't have much choice. Even in states that don't have shelter-in-place orders, officials are urging the public to stay at home as much as possible and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. That's having a chilling effect on sales in general, let alone on retail. There's also a question of public perception. GameStop in particular has been accused of knowingly putting employees' lives at risk by remaining open, to the point where it was prepared to defy law enforcement. If they didn't close their stores to walk-ins, they risked alienating many of their would-be customers.

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