Like big box retailers Walmart and Target, home improvement giants Lowe’s and Ace Hardware have benefited from their status as essential retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boosted by an 80% increase in online sales, Lowe’s increased its comparable sales by 11.2% in Q1, which ended May 1. The comp sales increase was even bigger for the U.S. home improvement business, at 12.3%.
“Our strong first quarter performance, which continues into May, also reflects the benefits of our retail fundamentals strategy, the improvement in our execution, and the resiliency of our home improvement business model,” said Marvin Ellison, President and CEO of Lowe’s in a statement.
Ace Hardware achieved record quarterly revenues of $1.43 billion, a 3.8% increase compared to Q1 2019. The retailer-owned cooperative generated net income of $36.2 million during Q1, a 60% increase over the same period the previous year. The 3,200 Ace retailers who share daily retail sales data achieved a 4.2% increase in same-store sales, the result of a 5.1% increase in average ticket sizes that was partially offset by a 0.9% decrease in same-store transactions.
As with other essential retailers, e-Commerce has been a bonanza for Ace Hardware during this time. “Business has changed dramatically in this period, as has life for a meaningful portion of the world,” said John Venhuizen, President and CEO of Ace Hardware in a statement. “In the month of April, U.S. retail same-store sales increased 26% and our online business surged 580%, primarily through curbside pickup, in-store pickup and delivery from our locally owned stores.”
Unlike the many retailers forced to furlough employees, Lowe’s has been hiring, adding more than 100,000 front-line associates for the spring season. The retailers also has:
- Committed $50 million in charitable contributions, including a $10 million donation in essential protective products for medical workers;
- Donated all available respirators to the country’s two largest healthcare distribution organizations;
- Empowered all Lowe’s stores to donate products to local hospitals and first responders to serve short- and long-term needs; and
- Donated $1 million of flower baskets for Mother’s Day from its network of small business growers and nurseries, giving them to more than 10,000 mothers in senior living facilities.
“In late February, we shifted our priorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and immediately focused on how best to serve the needs of our communities during this unprecedented time,” said Lowe’s Ellison. “Our highest priority remains the health and safety of our associates and community, and we have demonstrated that commitment in the first quarter through an investment of $340 million, including support for healthcare workers and first responders.”