Home Depot and Lowe’s Capitalized on Pandemic

As an essential retailer for emergency home repairs, Home Depot and Lowe’s were allowed to stay open when most retail shut down for months. Essential home repairs were not the only beams holding up the home improvement stores. 

Stuck at home with the home becoming the one space for work, school, and living, consumers responded with general home improvements. Vacations were cancelled and as a result, vacation budgets were redirected to sprucing up spaces. 

When hurricane season came around, Home Depot and Lowe’s also saw an increase in sales for pre and post disaster storm needs. 

With Black Friday approaching, Home Depot announced Black Friday sales throughout the season to avoid the crowds on the infamous Thanksgiving weekend. 

On the onset of the pandemic, Home Depot also made major improvements to their employee’s benefits. $850 million expanded Home Depot associates benefits in the following ways: 

  • Added 80 hours of paid time off for all full-time hourly associates and 40 hours of paid time off for part-time hourly associates to be used at their discretion at any time in 2020 and paid out if not used
  • For associates who are 65 years of age or older, or determined to be at higher risk by the CDC, added 240 hours of paid time off for full-time hourly associates and 120 hours of paid time off for part-time hourly associates to be used at their discretion at any time in 2020 and paid out if not used
  • Providing paid time off for any associate who has contracted COVID-19 until released by a doctor 
  • Providing up to 14 days paid time off for any associate required to be quarantined by a public health authority or the CDC 
  • Providing additional bonuses to hourly associates in stores and distribution centers -- $100 per week for full-time hourly associates and $50 per week for part-time hourly associates 
  • Relaxed time off policies
  • Extended dependent care benefits and waived co-pays

For Home Depot, their success is in the numbers. The end of the second quarter, sales rose 25% and were twice the amount Wall Street projected. 

For Lowe’s, it’s a similar success story. Last quarter, sales increased over 30%, and online sales increased 135%. Lowe’s also supported their store associates by issuing $600 million of benefits, including $300 bonus for full time associates and $150 for part time and seasonal. Hourly pay was also increased $2 for all employees. Lowe’s Vice President, Bill Boltz reported the highest sales "in indoor categories such as decor and lighting." In addition, there was also  "significant improvement in flooring, millwork, kitchen, and bath." 

Financial forecasts continue to look well for these two giants in home improvement retail. Some expect the home remodels to take a lull, which could be possible due to colder weather. It is more likely sales will continue to at least remain steady, with likely potential to grow, as the holiday season approaches. Perhaps the new normal will be an emphasis on improving the home most have used for months now as not only their home, but a place for work and learning. Perhaps emphasis on frivolous spending and taking far away vacations will be a trend still in the distance as we all chose to stay home and make our homes a beautiful place to be. 

October 29, 2020
Barton Strawn

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