Lowe's on Wednesday announced it is hiring more than 53,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, significantly more than the 45,000 in-store seasonal hires last year, which came amid corporate layoffs.
Available part-time and full-time positions include service and support managers, customer service associates, cashiers, stockers and sales specialists. Part-time and full-time employees can take advantage of Lowe's health and wellness benefits, incentive programs, 401(k), a discounted stock purchase plan, tuition reimbursement and flexible work schedules, according to a company press release.
The home improvement retailer is also launching "Business Chat," where customers can connect with customer service agents using Apple’s Message app, according to an Apple press release.
As Lowe's hires more workers, it's also expanding a customer service approach with chatbots — a growing trend among retailers. And the move meets a need: Last year, businesses experienced a 8.29% increase in demand for customer service live chat services comparing to 2016, according to a customer service report from LiveChat.
On Monday Lowe's noted that, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, in addition to a $2.5 million donation to disaster relief, more than 3,000 store employees volunteered to provide necessary support to impacted stores and communities. Lowe's full-time employees receive paid time off for community volunteering each year, according to a company press release.
Lowe's and The Home Depot have each benefited from a strong housing market and, more recently, devastating hurricanes that drove unexpected home repair sales. The two will likely always share the spoils of such external forces, but it may be time for Lowe's to think about how it can differentiate from its bigger rival, suggested GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders.
"As much as there is room for two home improvement giants in the market, Lowe's playing second fiddle to Home Depot is a longstanding issue," he said in an email to Retail Dive. "Lowe's needs to work harder to build its brand presence and recall, something that recent advertising and marketing have begun to address. The next step should be to think about the areas where Lowe's can differentiate from Home Depot and win market share.”
Lowe’s in November reported a 6.5% sales rise to $16.77 billion from $15.7 billion in the year-ago quarter, beating the Zacks consensus estimate of $16.57 billion. Gross margin increased 5.7% year-over-year to $5.71 billion and 34.07% of sales, compared to $5.4 billion and 34.4% of sales a year ago, and same-store sales in the quarter rose 5.7%, driven by a 4.8% increase in average ticket and transaction growth, and U.S. same-store sales rose 5.1%. Hurricane-related sales in the quarter were some $200 million, though that didn't measurably add to earnings.