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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Best Buy reported surprisingly strong Q2 sales and earnings. The company also had some surprising things to say about customer behavior. Bullish things.

Why it matters: The distribution of COVID vaccines and the reopening of the economy came with an expected shift in spending toward experiences and less on goods.

  • Best Buy’s robust 19.6% jump in comparable-store sales suggests there’s still plenty of demand for the electronics that make being at home more comfortable and enjoyable.

What they’re saying: "Our original outlook also reflected a scenario in which customers would resume or accelerate spend in areas that were slowed during the pandemic, such as travel and dining out," Best Buy CFO Matt Bilunas said on a Tuesday call with analysts.

  • "Although we are seeing some shift in consumer spending occur, the impact has been less pronounced than we previously anticipated."

Zoom out: The pandemic has changed the way people live and work. And companies like Best Buy have been in a position to win.

  • "There has been a dramatic and structural increase in the need for technology," said CEO Corie Barry.
  • She added that customers have an "elevated appetite to upgrade" due to continual tech innovations. And purchasing patterns reflect "permanent life changes, like hybrid work and streaming entertainment content."

Between the lines: Barry notes that they’ve seen some consumer spending shift away from experiences as COVID cases have risen.

  • "But we've just seen this growth continue, honestly, in both experiences and on the retail side," Barry said.
  • She attributed this ability to spend to the consumer having saved a lot of money during the pandemic, leaving them with cash and borrowing capacity to unleash.

The big picture: Business strength amid rising COVID cases is not just a Best Buy story, says Lori Calvasina, RBC Capital Markets head of U.S. equity strategy.

  • "A sizable majority [of S&P 500 companies that announced earnings last week] have emphasized the strong demand, with a noteworthy minority commenting on decelerating growth," Calvasina wrote in a research note.

The bottom line: As long as the Delta variant lingers, uncertainty will remain elevated. So far, consumer spending has been pretty resilient.

Go deeper

Unruly customers threaten economic recovery

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.

The big picture: Aggressive and violent clashes between customers and service workers over COVID safety protocols over the past nearly two years have led to prison sentences, fines and deaths.

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against American workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Mapping repression in China's Xinjiang region

Data: © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A sweeping new report released today by an Australian research organization reveals new details about how the Chinese Communist Party — and specifically who within the party — is carrying out its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Uncovering the actual offices and individuals implementing the Chinese government's genocide and forced labor policies in Xinjiang can bring accountability and help international companies delink supply chains in compliance with U.S. and EU forced labor laws.