Lowe’s has played second fiddle to Home Depot for years now, lagging its bigger rival by sales growth and e-commerce prowess. But Lowe’s is making big strides with its store brands, and it has made major technical changes to rev up its e-commerce site. Additionally, the company's big appliance business is booming. The economic downturn is likely to cool a housing market that has allowed Lowe’s to thrive despite some weaknesses, which include meager online growth. But it seems, for now, Lowe’s has begun to address those competitive disadvantages.