News Column

Best Buy Ups Ante in Holiday Shopping Wars

November 21, 2013

Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer

best buy
Best Buy store (file photo)

NEW YORK (AP) In the escalating competition for holiday shoppers, Best Buy says it will match rivals' prices even after customers have purchased items, whether in stores or online.

Retailers are pulling out all the stops this year. Many, including Best Buy, are opening on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. They're rolling out so-called "Black Friday" deals a week early and matching online prices. November and December is a key time for retailers since the period can account for up to 40 percent of annual revenue.

But CEO Hubert Joly says the chain will match its competitors' prices so that cost will not factor into where consumers decide to shop.

The company already warned on Tuesday that stiff price competition during the holidays would likely eat into its profit margin for the fourth quarter, calling price matching "table stakes" for competing during the holidays.

On Thursday Best Buy said it was expanding its price-match guarantee to items that customers have already purchased. If a competitor or Best Buy itself offers a price that is cheaper than a customer paid, the company will refund the difference, beginning immediately up until Christmas Eve.

"The game has changed, price is off the table," said CEO Hubert Joly at the company's Union Square store in New York on Thursday.

Joly said that the company's product offerings, knowledgeable staff and services like Geek Squad and ship-to-store should also help draw people into stores.

It joins Amazon, Wal-Mart and others in offering doorbuster deals a week early. Beginning Friday the company is offering deals like $200 off a $449.99 Vizio 50-inch TV and a $75 gift card with the purchase of a fourth-generation Apple iPad.

Best Buy has faced tough competition from discount stores and online retailers for years. It is in the midst of a turnaround program under Joly that involves cutting costs, revamping stores and adding employee training to get customers into stores.

The Minneapolis-based company said Tuesday that it returned to a profit in the third quarter compared with a year-ago loss, while revenue was nearly unchanged at $9.36 billion.

Its shares closed up 36 cents at $39.07. The stock has more than tripled since the beginning of the year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original headline: Best Buy will match prices on items already bought

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Source: Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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