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Best Buy CEO: 'Great time to be a consumer'

After a year-long spending freeze, Brian Dunn says Americans are hitting stores again and retailers are responding with better deals.

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By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com senior writer

When will you know that an economic recovery is underway?
  • When the Dow tops 10,000
  • When GDP turns positive
  • When job growth resumes
  • It's already started

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After a year-long spending freeze, the CEO of Best Buy says Americans are loosening their purse strings again -- but he's not betting that the shop-'til-you-drop mentality will make a comeback for this year's holiday shopping season.

"It's a great time to be a consumer," said Brian Dunn, the head of the No. 1 electronics retailer, during a media presentation Wednesday in New York about the company's holiday strategy. "Consumers can get prices and value that they've never seen."

At the same time, he said "a new normal" has emerged in how consumers are shopping, with value and experience just as important as the price point.

The year-end gift-buying marathon, which kicks off in earnest on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, is typically the most critical time of the year for retailers.

In fact, the November-December period can account for as much as 50% or more of merchants' annual profits and sales.

And even though Best Buy will have one less competitor for critical holiday sales, following Circuit City's demise earlier this year, Dunn said the retailer isn't breathing easier as a result.

"Every year I say this is the most important holiday season. It's true this year too," Dunn said Tuesday .

"But this one is particularly interesting," he said. "It's a bit of a paradoxical environment."

Dunn explained that while the recession and other events of the past year have seriously impacted consumers' spending behavior, Americans are "back out" and shopping again.

He said Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) is going to make sure its prices will be as compelling to consumers as its biggest competitors such as Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500). He said the company would also promote its services, offered through its Geek Squad unit, as a point of differentiation with its competitors.

Dunn also said the company will be hiring more seasonal workers this year than last year for the holidays "because we anticipate better year-over-year performance," he said.

CNNMoney.com asked Dunn for his top five items from Best Buy for his holiday wishlist.

"A Netbook, [Samsung] HD Instinct cellphone, love the Flip high-def camcorder, ultra-thin LED TVs and a Best Buy gift card for people I love," he said.  To top of page

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