The Home Depot and Lowe’s benefit from consumers’ extended time at home

A look at the top home improvement retailers from NRF's 2020 Top 100 Retailers list.
David P. Schulz
NRF Contributor

The National Retail Federation’s annual report on the Top 100 Retailers is based on sales for the most recently completed fiscal year. The Power Player charts look at retailers with 2019 U.S. sales equal to or greater than 10 percent of sales of the category leader.

NRF Top 100 Retailers

View the complete Top 100 Retailers list.

DIY retailers fared well in the lockdowns during the coronavirus crisis. Sales rose but profits were harder to come by as the cost of maintaining operations during the pandemic weighed heavily on the bottom line. In addition to the fixer-uppers, contractors and professionals were busy working on home projects and repairs, though new-home building was knocked off course after gaining momentum in the first two months of 2020.

The larger question is, what will happen between now and the end of the year? The Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University expects home improvement spending to decline from last year’s levels in most metropolitan areas. However, that forecast was released April 30 when the pandemic was at its most intense.

The economic uncertainty has caused both The Home Depot and Lowe’s to withdraw previously issued guidance on how their businesses were expected to perform this year. For the most part, The Home Depot locations remained open throughout the COVID-19 crisis and the company benefited from consumers’ renewed interest in projects around the home. These pluses, however, were more than offset by the pay hikes and increased benefits The Home Depot provided to employees working during the crisis.

Both DIY clientele and professional customers at Lowe’s proved “surprisingly resilient” earlier this year, said President and CEO Marvin Ellison. He singled out strong sales of cleaning supplies and home appliances, as well as paint and other merchandise for DIY projects, but slow sales in bathroom and kitchen installations because people seemed “reluctant to invite people into their homes.”

Ellison also sees this bump in sales tapering off. “We don’t anticipate we’re going to see negative comps, but we do anticipate that we’re going to see sales start to moderate at some point in the latter part of this quarter and the back half of this year,” he said.

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The NRF Top 100 Retailers list ranks the industry’s largest companies according to sales.
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