retail

Lowe's Out To Stoke Hometown Pride With $10M Birthday Gift

Corporate anniversaries are usually among the snooziest marketing gimmicks, but Lowe’s is looking to light up Main Street America with its 100th birthday.

The DIY giant, still riding the blistering sales gains fueled by the pandemic, is launching a contest called 100 Hometowns, encouraging towns around the country to compete for funding for their projects. Whether it’s refurbishing a library, building a dog park or sprucing up a youth center, Lowe’s will hand out cash to the winners to get it done.

The funds for these 100 projects are part of its $10 million commitment to give back this year.

Grants are scheduled to be awarded in June, and projects are to be completed this year. Judges include employees of third-party vendors who will screen for the most inspirational nominations, deliberating over demonstrated need and potential community impact. Winners will then be selected to reflect a balance of geographies, urban and rural selections.

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As the projects come to life over the year, Lowe’s says it will include them on its centennial landing page, along with “other wide-ranging storytelling efforts.”

Like its rival, the Home Depot, Lowe’s sales have hummed this year as housebound Americans dove into DIY projects. In its latest quarterly results, comparable sales soared 28.1%, with total sales rising to $20.3 billion. And net earnings soared to $978 million, compared to $509 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Industry experts don’t expect those gains to slow down, either, fueled by “additional fiscal stimulus and a red-hot housing market,” writes Seth Basham, an analyst who follows the company for Wedbush Securities.

Further, Basham expects the Mooresville, North Carolina-based retailer to excel this year in its efforts to lure the professional market -- customers like interior designers and building contractors shopping for products to complete projects for others -- as building efforts intensify and more of the company’s earlier initiatives take effect. “We expect 2021 to be 'the year of the pro,'” with this segment’s growth outpacing DIY.

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