Best Buy to spend more on holidays, hiring flat

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer electronics chain Best Buy Co Inc BBY.N is planning to hire 29,000 seasonal workers, in line with last year's hiring levels, as it prepares for the holiday shopping season.

The electronics chain, which is facing increasing competition from discount rivals like Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N and Target Corp TGT.N as well as online players like Inc AMZN.O, will also spend more on promotions this year versus 2009.

The company said the increase in promotions was driven by a slew of recent product launches ahead of what is shaping up to be a competitive holiday season.

Both Wal-Mart and Target have revamped or added to their electronics sections this year in order to attract more customers.

“It will be a hard-fought contest,” Chief Executive Brian Dunn told reporters at a holiday preview event in New York.

On Tuesday, the company also announced plans to open about 44 to 50 Best Buy mobile-product locations in various U.S. markets before Thanksgiving as it looks to boost its high-margin smartphone business.

While Best Buy plans to keep its holiday hiring flat compared with last year, retailers like Macy's Inc M.N and Toys R Us have said they will increase hiring of seasonal workers to prepare stores for the holiday rush.

Separately, Michael Vitelli, Best Buy's president of the Americas, said the company is in talks with Blackberry maker Research in Motion LtdRIM.TO to carry RIM's new tablet computer.

Best Buy shares were up 34 cents at $39.78 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)