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How Lowe’s plans to finally become a holiday season player

October 20, 2020, 4:30 PM UTC

While Lowe’s stores full of power tools, drywall panels, lacquer thinner, and other practical products have never been seen as a Christmas gift destination, the home improvement chain is hoping to change that this year by leveraging consumers’ fixation on their homes during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the company announced its most aggressive sales campaign linked to the holidays yet. Lowe’s will hold an early deals event starting Thursday, featuring tools, generators, and the one item everyone wants under their tree on Christmas: a pressure washer. The company is making its assortment more fun by adding scooters, trampolines, exercise bikes, air hockey tables, and kitchen items like air fryers.

It’s clear Lowe’s wants to keep the momentum it has found since the pandemic broke out (U.S. sales in its most recent quarter rose 34%) as Americans have shifted spending from vacations they can’t take and clothes they don’t need to throwing cash at beautifying and improving the homes they are spending more time in during this COVID-19 outbreak.

“Whether repurposing a room into an office or tackling basic repairs, more time at home became more time for home,” Bill Boltz, Lowe’s executive vice president for merchandising, said in a statement.

More important, Lowe’s can’t sit idly by while competitors offer their own deals. In the appliance arena for instance, where Lowe’s leads, it has to compete with Best Buy’s earliest holiday deals yet this year.

But Lowe’s also has its eye on another rival: its most direct competitor, Home Depot. As detailed by Fortune earlier this year, Home Depot has gradually increased the assortment of merchandise that can be Christmas gifts, such as small tools, batteries as stocking stuffers, and even toys over the years to great effect. Last year, Home Depot created a Gift Center section at the front of its stores in a prime spot to showcase items with gift potential, along with Christmas staples like artificial trees.

It worked so well that executives said Black Friday in 2019 was a key source of its 5.3% jump in quarterly sales during that period. So it’s easy to see why Lowe’s would want in on it, too. Analysts believe the holidays will keep giving home improvement retailers a boost: This week, research firm Customer Growth Partners forecasted revenue in this area of retail would grow 8.9% in November and December, outpacing the rest of retail.

For Lowe’s and Home Depot, the fourth quarter is typically the slowest of the year. Their peak season has traditionally been spring as people ramp up home projects. But even as they have both thrived this year, Lowe’s and Home Depot dialed back their promotional events in the spring to avoid overcrowding at stores, likely leaving some money on the table. A holiday season boost would help them make some of that up.

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