Days before Best Buy's Black Friday deals kicked off, the most hardcore of bargain hunters were already camped out in tents in front of stores, hoping to get their hands on the biggest doorbusters.
They couldn't have cared less about the company's new customer service or technology initiatives.
"Not one person freezing their rears off in line Thursday night were there to buy customer service," wrote Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions in a note to clients. "They wanted the lowest possible price or to touch a device that was saved in an Amazon basket."
"It all comes down to the money. I plan on buying one of the TVs and maybe a laptop for college," said Josh, a young shopper who founded a Best Buy tent city in Ohio. "I'm a high school student with a minimum-wage job and so doing this is the only way I can afford these items. The deals were too good to risk."
Best Buy's blockbuster online sales around Thanksgiving also indicate that consumers are coming for the prices, not the shopping experience.
BestBuy.com's traffic increased 104 percent on Thanksgiving Day — the first day of promos for many of the big brands — compared with the day prior, according to Experian. That was the biggest jump of any retailer, showing that customers came for the sales more than anywhere else.
The embattled retailer, equipped with a new CEO and many new faces in upper management, has a harsh reality to face.
Best Buy is planning on adding plenty of initiatives to improve the customer experience. It wants to offer more exclusive electronics items. It wants to integrate mobile and social into the shopping experience. It wants to train employees to be better able to help customers.
All of these things are great and they should give some consumers new reasons to visit Best Buy, but in order for these initiatives to matter, Best Buy has to remain price competitive.
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