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Experts weigh in on inventory ahead of holiday shopping season

Best Buy's CEO says they'll be able to buck national trends forecasting low inventory, while other supply chains worry about empty stockings.

MINNEAPOLIS — George John has taught all things marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management for years — and he had something to say about people getting worked up pre-Halloween about what may or may not make it under the Holiday tree. 

"People are making too much out of — there aren't going to be Christmas toys," John said. "That's one of the most switchable purchases we have. If I'm a dad or mom and trying to buy toys for my kids at Christmas, or for my grandchildren at Christmas, first of all, we don't even know what the little rugrats want, so we're trying to guess. Half the time we guess wrong and the toy gets returned, so it's not the kind of apocalypse that people are making it out to be - there aren't going to be toys, go buy early - I would say, take it easy. If worse comes to worse, you can always get them a gift card anyway. The parents will love you for it."

So that's one solution. Another comes from the CEO of Best Buy, Corie Barry, who joined Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie Thursday on Today.

"Broadly, we are going into the holiday with 20% more inventory than we had two years ago; 50% more than last year," Barry said.

Barry says Best Buy is stocked and ready for its early Black Friday shoppers starting next week. So, how did Best Buy get that much more inventory since every holiday supply store is forecasting empty stockings?

"I think one of the important things at Best Buy is we have been navigating this for almost  20 months," Barry said. "Consumer electronics is one of the first categories to really pop, and that meant demand skyrocketed globally; meant some factories shutting down due to COVID issues, and so our teams have been working hard with our vendor partners through this whole time to bring in product. What that means, is we have been planning way ahead of time for the holiday."

Retail workers are just hard to find, with more quitting than ever before. Barry said last year to plan for that, they raised wages, and more importantly, put an emphasis on caring for their employees.

"I think it's actually about feeling like a valued employee. Our turnover is down versus two years ago, pre-pandemic, and so the question is, 'What's the wellness and the care for your employees?'"

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