Best Buy ($BBY) is seeing its annual staffing plans slow down compared to prior years - and it's just one negative trend that could impact earnings when the company announces its results this week. 

For the last three years, the company has been staffing up - but at a slower pace. In 2017, from the beginning of the year through late August, it added 157% more jobs. The following year, over the same timeframe, 142% more were added. But, in 2019, that growth fell - to 60%. Best Buy has to staff up for the holiday seasons, so the patterns hold up compared to how most retailers behave from a hiring perspective - but, the slowdown in growth is worrisome, especially when held against the next data sets. 

With a nationwide map (seen above) Best Buy should be able to capitalize on its ability to have for customers what they need, so they don't have to wait on a web delivery. For now. But, from our next chart, we can tell that consumers are beginning to disengage with the brand - Facebook ($FB) Likes peaked last year, and have begun to slide. It's a particularly worriesome trend, because in order for a brand to lose 'Likes,' Facebook users have to actively make a decision to uncheck the 'Like' button to disable the relationship. But - it looks like that is exactly what Best Buy fans (or, former fans aka haters) are doing.

What can help Best Buy? Well for one, consumer confidence is still soaring, in spite of the trade war, employment numbers remain solid and this very weekend is the onset of NCAA football, followed in about a week by the beginning of the NFL season. So there's a reasonable chance that Best Buy will be flooded by white-Nike'd, cargo short-ed dads looking to load up on a slightly larger television than what they had last season. 

Best Buy shares have outpaced the broader market in 2019, gaining roughly 29% year-to-date - the company is seeing analyst expectations of $0.99 per share when it reports earnings August 29, according to analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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