The Nuts and Bolts of Home Supply Retailers
With the glimmer of hope for home sales on the rise, Home Depot and Lowe’s are poised for additional gains.
Having posted a 14.3% increase in earnings over the same period a year ago and an almost 8% increase the last quarter, Lowe’s, the second largest retailer in this category, appears to be on the right track. Total sales are expected to increase up to 2% this year and Lowe’s will add 10 more stores to its stable of around 1,700 stores in the U.S., with additional stores in Mexico and Canada. These additional stores and a boost from an anticipated growth in home sales should increase Lowe’s market share.
Lowe’s venture into online sales has prompted a turnaround for them. ‘MyLowes’ offers customers online tools to manage their home improvement projects from beginning to end in a very sophisticated and interactive platform.
Most of all, Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY’s) who are working on repair and maintenance projects on their own homes make up a big part of Lowe’s customer base. The electrical and plumbing supply areas continue to comprise most consumer spending. These DIY’s seem to prefer Lowe’s in-store shopping experience, which many analysts say outshines Home Depot’s, plus Lowe’s excellent customer service is a big draw for this market.
Lowe’s has also been successfully taking advantage of the eco-green market, too, which more consumers are turning to.
With over 2,150 stores in the U.S. and Canada, the No. 1 retailer in this area is Home Depot. Since last October, Home Depot has lowered prices on over 3,000 items and this pricing strategy has helped it compete against Lowe’s “Everyday Low Pricing.” With lower prices than its biggest competitor, Home Depot also appears to have better promotions and discounts.
In response to its lagging customer service, Home Depot initiated a big overhaul in that area and since 2011, reports have been very positive with more engaged and knowledgeable staff able to address customer questions. Leveraging technology through handheld devices like tablets and “First Phone”mobile devices have made it easier to review inventory and increase personal interaction between staff and customers. These hand-held “First Phones” also act as credit-card scanners for faster checkout.
Looking for ways to ease credit-card payments, Home Depot introduced PayPal payment capability throughout its stores. In addition, customers can have their items scanned by a store employee while they wait in checkout lines; this way they spend less time waiting at registers.
All in all both Lowe’s and Home Depot are viable retailers, making the best of a still challenging housing market, but their appeal to Do-it-Yourselfers and cash-strapped home remodelers are very strong. With over 500,000 employed between both chains, there is an ever-changing ebb and flow of permanent and temporary jobs on all different levels. Retail Recruiting Firms are keen to work with employers and job seekers to fill positions– keep an eye out for a surge in Christmas and Spring hiring where tens of thousands of jobs in the Home Building Supply retail open up.