Best Buy employees at all Vancouver Island stores arrived to work this morning to find the doors locked, just three of the 15 Best Buy and Future Shop locations across Canada that suddenly closed.

Stores in Saanich, Langford and Nanaimo, B.C., shut down unexpectedly Thursday as part of a massive move to downsize the big-box giant. Best Buy stores in New Westminster and South Surrey also closed, as did a Future Shop location in West Kelowna.

In a statement, Best Buy said the move was the first phase of a “long-term transformational strategy to optimize the company’s retail footprint across the country.”

Jessica Favle was getting ready for work at the Langford Best Buy this morning when she received a call from her manager to say the store was shut down.

Favle, the single mom of a two-year-old boy, worked at Best Buy location from the first day it opened. She was shocked to hear the news.

“I really relied on this job,” she said. “It’s a pretty big blow considering I’m a full-time single mom and this was my only job.”

The company says that over the next three years it will focus on a new strategy to open smaller concept stores and mobile locations. It says the move comes in an effort to cut down extra costs and “eliminate redundant operating systems and to optimize its real estate strategy to reflect a more a changing retail landscape.”

The company has been facing tough competition from online-only retailers and has been a victim of what's known as "showrooming," a practice in which shoppers browse in-store and then buy the products online at a lower price from competitors.

In March 2012, Best Buy announced it was closing down 50 stores in the U.S., following less than stellar sales numbers for the holiday season.

Future Shop was founded in Vancouver in 1982, and expanded into the U.S. In 1999, Best Buy bought all the U.S. Future Shop locations, and two years later picked up the Canadian operations as well. Best Buy continued to run both chains, in many cases with both outlets located in close proximity.

The company has pledged severance and employment assistance programs to the employees who have suddenly found themselves without a job.

“Hiring priority will also be offered to previous employees across the country affected by today’s announcement,” it said in a statement.

Best Buy Canada operates 139 Future Shop stores and 58 Best Buy Canada stores across the country.

Best Buy has set up a toll-free line for consumers with questions about store closures. That number is 1-800-237-8289.