Best Buy to close Meriden mall store Nov. 1

Best Buy to close Meriden mall store Nov. 1

Record-Journal


MERIDEN — Electronics retailer Best Buy will close its store at the Westfield Meriden mall Nov. 1, the company confirmed Monday.

“It’s a real estate decision,” said General Manager Nicole Bronson. “We routinely evaluate which stores have expiring leases.”

The Meriden store employs 60 people, who will be allowed to apply for positions at Best Buy locations in Newington and North Haven, or accept severance packages.

A sign in both doorways announced the store closing and invited customers to visit Best Buy in those towns and at Bestbuy.com.

Best Buy recently closed another store in the Boston area, Bronson said, but the company is also opening new stores.

The Meriden location opened in 2004 along with Dick’s Sporting Goods. The two stores combined to fill the vacancy left by Lord & Taylor. Around the same time, Best Buy’s biggest competitor, Circuit City, agreed to occupy the former A&P Super Food Mart on Chamberlain Highway near the mall. Circuit City closed in early 2009.

A Best Buy corporate spokesman said the Meriden store closure was not part of a larger shutdown, but was based on a “decision not to renew the lease at this location.”

The spokesman would not provide details on the negotiations between the chain and Westfield. The chain’s closest stores to the Meriden location are in Newington, North Haven, Waterbury and West Hartford.

Westfield marketing representatives could not be reached for comment Monday.

Best Buy’s exit leaves another large vacancy challenge for Westfield. The mall is still trying to replace former anchor store J.C. Penney, which shut its doors in May.

Best Buy set the closure date for November to give employees an opportunity to apply in time for the holiday shopping season, said spokesman Jeff Shelman.

Under its former chief executive officer, Best Buy underwent a 50-store closure in 2012. Since CEO Hubert Joly took over the helm, it has only closed two stores in two years, Shelman said.

Like Staples, Best Buy suffered lackluster sales in recent years, due primarily to heavy competition from online giants such as Amazon and eBay, as well as brick and mortar discounter Wal-Mart. A recent survey of consumer buying habits revealed that 19.1 percent of those surveyed said they engaged in “showrooming” or purchasing from another website after leaving the store, according to the National Retail Federation.

Best Buy reported disappointing sales during the 2013 holiday shopping season, raising investor concerns about the consumer electronic retailer’s ability to turn business around.

Shares dropped from 29 percent on the news, revealing investor concern about Best Buy’s future, according to the Associated Press. Joly attributed the decline to price competition and an “intensely promotional” environment.

Gregory Kedzierawsky, of Wolcott, said Monday he was happy to get a deal on a laptop that was returned to the Meriden location by another customer. But he was disappointed to hear the store was closing.

“It’s bad,” Kedzierawsky said. “I have to drive to another store.”

Daniel Noland, of Meriden, agreed. He thinks the decision is going to drive more customers online and hurt Best Buy.

“I’m mad,” Noland said. “To me, Best Buy is one of the best stores in the mall. Best Buy is the mall. Nobody is going to drive to Newington. If they’re going to take anything out, take out TJ Maxx.”

In May, TJ Maxx filled the vacancy left by Borders books.

mgodin@record-journal.com
(203) 317-2255
Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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