The future is cloudy for 1,500 full- and part-time Canadian retail employees who were hit with surprise layoffs this weekend in the Future Shop retail consolidation with Best Buy.

Future Shop employees say they were as surprised as everyone else when the company shut its doors across the country on Saturday, ahead of a move to permanently close 66 stores and rebrand 65 others as Best Buy locations.

Most of the affected workers showed up for their quarterly staff meetings on Saturday morning with no knowledge that they were about to be let go.

"We had no idea," former customer service representative Kristin Molloy told CTV Atlantic. Molloy says about 40 employees were terminated at the Dartmouth, N.S., location where she worked.

"It was just, 'Here's your pay. Bye.' "

Jasmin Au, of Windsor, Ont., says she had heard rumours that her Future Shop might be closing, but the news still came as a shock when it was delivered by one of her managers.

"It was just devastating," she told CTV Windsor. "It's really frustrating because there was no warning at all."

Best Buy Co., Inc., the company that owns both Best Buy Canada and Future Shop, announced Saturday that 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs were being terminated in the restructuring deal. In a statement, the company says it is looking to address its "real estate footprint" in many areas where it has Future Shop and Best Buy stores in close proximity.

"Any decisions that impact our people are never taken lightly," Best Buy Canada president and COO Ron Wilson said in the statement. "Our first priority is to support them through this change."

Best Buy Canada says the 1,500 affected employees will receive "severance, employee assistance and outplacement support" as part of the deal.

The surprise layoffs are a "strange" move by Best Buy and Future Shop, University of Ottawa professor David M. Gray said.

Gray says it's uncommon for a retailer to suddenly close up shop and eliminate jobs so unexpectedly.

He suggests Best Buy may have been looking to avoid the employee relations fiasco Target is still dealing with in its prolonged retreat from Canada.

More than 17,000 Target employees were affected by the company’s decision to shutter its Canadian locations. However, as the store winds down operations here, many of those soon-to-be-unemployed workers were left to move remaining stock and to address customers’ questions, leaving morale quite low.

"That didn't go very well," Gray told by phone on Saturday.

The 1,500 affected Future Shop employees will now join an already dire retail job market, where they will likely have to contend with former Target employees for an ever-shrinking number of retail positions.

But "not all hope is lost," Gray says. The retail industry has a high turnover rate, and for Future Shop's primarily young employees, they should still be able to find other jobs in the industry.

It just might take them a little longer to do so.

But that won't soothe the short-term pain for many of the affected Future Shop employees.

Several of them took to social media to express their disappointment.


That's all she wrote. Thank you for everything. #FutureShop #RIP

A photo posted by Felix Antoine G Dion (@felixgdion) on