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Best Buy wants to sell you luggage and outdoor grills

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

Best Buy wants to sell you a new outdoor grill for summer cookouts, a backpack for a return to the office, and luggage for future vacations as it extends its product options beyond electronics.

The chain announced Tuesday that it will sell grills, outdoor firepits and patio sets from brands such as Weber and Traeger online and at a handful of its approximately 1,000 US stores. Best Buy will also offer a collection of Tumi laptop bags and luggage online. A Tumi roll-top backpack, for instance, sells for $475, while a carry-on bag costs $595.

Best Buy’s sales have surged over the past year as consumers spending more time at home supercharged demand for electronics. But the chain is expecting a slowdown this year and is searching for new ways to draw customers.

Best Buy’s comparable sales, or those at stores open for at least one year, grew 9.7% last year compared with 2019. But the company is projecting growth of 3% to 6% this year.

“We expect shopping behavior will evolve as customers are able to spend more time on activities like eating out, traveling and other events,” Best Buy chief financial officer Matt Bilunas said last month. “It is difficult to know exactly how that impacts our business,” he said, especially as Best Buy tries to match last year’s strong sales results.

With the new offerings, Best Buy is shifting into areas in high demand.

Sales of grills and smokers increased 34% to $3.2 billion during the 12 months ending May 1, according to the latest figures from market research firm NPD Group.

Luggage sales tumbled in the early months of the pandemic, but according to NPD, they have started to rebound in recent months as people take trips again.

Best Buy is betting there’s an opportunity to capitalize on these trends with premium brands, said Seth Basham, a retail analyst at Wedbush Securities.

As an extra incentive, Best Buy is offering free home assembly of some of the grills. This may appeal to customers who are used to Best Buy installing their TVs or home theater systems, he said.

“Best Buy has developed a strong delivery and assembly business for big-ticket items such as TVs and appliances,” Basham said. “Grills and outdoor furniture [are] a nicely adjacent category.”

The chain has been expanding outside electronics in recent years.

In 2019, Best Buy started selling at-home exercise equipment. The company has also added hearing aids, indoor gardening products, bidets and toys to its assortment.

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