A shopper makes a purchase at a Best Buy store in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Eddie Seal | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Best Buy said Tuesday that it’s brought back about half of its furloughed employees as sales rebound.

The retailer said in a news release its second-quarter sales are up about 2.5% through July 18, compared with the same period a year prior. That includes sales growth of 2% in the U.S. and about 8% internationally, the company said.

Online sales have jumped by 255%, compared with a year ago. It said customers’ purchases of more computers, appliances and tablets are driving those sales.

“Strong consumer demand, combined with shopping experiences that emphasize safety and convenience, has helped produce our sales results to date,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said in a news release. “None of this would be possible without the effort and energy of our front-line employees working in stores, supply chain facilities and customers’ homes.”

Best Buy shares jumped nearly 5% on the news. 

The company is also changing the way it pays employees. Instead of using an incentive compensation model, all hourly employees will get a 4% raise. Best Buy’s starting pay will be $15 an hour, as of Aug. 2.

A company spokesman would not say the prior starting wage for workers or how many would get a raise because of the policy change, but said it would make pay more predictable for employees.

Best Buy saw strong demand in the early weeks of the pandemic as customers bought kitchen appliances, computer monitors and laptops to help them cook, learn and work from home. Stores switched to a curbside only model, even though the retailer was deemed an essential retailer. 

In mid-April, however, Best Buy said the company laid off about 51,000 hourly employees and cut executive pay. In mid-June, it began bringing back those employees and now half have returned.

Best Buy said Tuesday that it will cover the cost of health benefits through Sept. 5 for employees who are enrolled in a health plan, but remain furloughed.

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