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Best Buy has a new strategy to win bargain hunters

<i>Courtesy of Best Buy</i><br/>Prices are surging
Courtesy of Best Buy
Prices are surging

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

Prices are surging, and Best Buy has a plan to draw in shoppers hunting for deals on TVs and laptops: more outlet stores.

Over the next year, Best Buy will double the number of outlet stores it has to 32 — starting with new outlets in Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and Manassas, Virginia — and add an outlet deals section to its website for the first time, the company said Wednesday.

Best Buy has operated outlet stores since 2014, offering discounts on TVs and major appliances that have been returned, repaired, exchanged or manufacturers have discontinued. It also has a similar “open-box” discount section at most of its approximately 1,000 stores.

Now, the chain is opening new outlet stores with a larger product assortment, including laptops, tables, gaming consoles and cell phones. It will add more services to these stores, such as same-day delivery, curbside pickup and a Geek Squad center where shoppers can get tech support.

Best Buy believes it needed to expand its outlet strategy so it can better appeal to customers who buy based on which discounts they can find.

The outlet stores are also a way for Best Buy to draw new shoppers and re-engage old ones. The retailer has thrived in recent years, but faces stiff competition in the consumer electronics business from Amazon, Costco, Walmart and others.

Best Buy said 16% of customers shopping at current outlet stores had never purchased from Best Buy, and 37% hadn’t shopped at Best Buy in the prior year.

Outlet stores are “important to customers,” said Damien Harmon, Best Buy’s executive vice president of omnichannel, in an interview. “When you don’t have a solution like that … you also potentially disengage customers.”

Opening new outlet stores carries other benefits for Best Buy, too, Harmon said.

It allows the retailer to move discount sections out of its regular stores and free up the space to showcase new, full-price merchandise.

And it gives Best Buy, the retail industry’s largest recipient of returned consumer electronics, another way to sell those products and keep them out of landfills.

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