An anonymous reader tips news that electronics retailer Best Buy will be closing 50 of its big-box stores across the U.S. this year, and laying off hundreds of corporate workers besides. The company plans to start testing new types of outlets as it tries to adapt to the changing face of retail sales. From the article: "Best Buy shares were off 7.7% at $24.56 on Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange. Also Thursday, Best Buy reported a $1.7 billion loss for its fourth quarter ended March 3. ... Consumers armed with mobile phones are increasingly using stores as showrooms to check out merchandise they later purchase for less online, a trend greatly benefiting Internet retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. that aren't encumbered by the costs of running physical locations and in many cases don't have to collect sales tax. Meanwhile Apple Inc.'s phones and tablets, showcased in its own namesake stores, have eroded the status of specialty chains as the one-stop shop for the latest in gadgetry. In response, Best Buy said it will launch large-scale tests of what it calls new 'connected store' formats in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., as well as San Antonio. The stores, which will emphasize services such as technology support and wireless connections, will feature large new hubs at their center to assist shoppers, as well as reconfigured checkout lanes and new areas to accelerate the pickup of items purchased earlier online."