Lowe's and Home Depot, the two largest home-improvement retailers in the United States, have both issued updates to their coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans. Each retailer took initial steps that included increased cleaning and sanitation of stores and high-traffic areas as well as modified delivery and installation processes.

In addition to continuing practices initially outlined, Lowe's announced several other actions being taken across all its U.S. stores. The actions include making masks and gloves available to all associates, increasing wages by $2 an hour for all associates throughout the month of April, and stopping the sale of N95 masks and instead donating them to hospitals to protect frontline healthcare workers.

Lowe's is also closing all stores at 7 p.m. daily to ensure additional time to replenish inventory and sanitize stores and enhancing social distancing protocols by adding ambassadors who will be responsible for monitoring customer flow and enforcing customer limits to allow proper social distancing. The retailer developed an app to implement customer limit protocol and monitor foot traffic inside store branches. Lowe's has also adjusted its floor layout by opening up aisle space, installed customer Plexiglas shields at all points of sale, increased third-party cleaning shifts, and shipped 10,000 truckloads of essential products to replenish store inventory. The company also expanded its pandemic response commitment to $170 million.

“We are continually working on ways to protect and support our associates and our customers during this time when we are all adjusting how we work and live,” Lowe’s president and CEO Marvin Ellison said in a public statement. “I’m announcing these new operational changes as we continue to keep the health and well-being of our associates and customers top of mind, especially as they look to us now more than ever for essential products, services and support.”

The Home Depot logo. (PR NewsFoto/The Home Depot)
The Home Depot logo. (PR NewsFoto/The Home Depot)

At Home Depot, the retailer is also adjusting store hours, closing all branches at 6 p.m. to give stores additional time to staff appropriately, restock inventory, and perform cleaning, according to a company news release. Similarly to Lowe's, Home Depot is limiting the number of customers inside stores to comply with social and physical distancing. The retailer has taken the additional steps of placing distancing markers at counters and posted signage throughout the store to enforce social distancing efforts. Home Depot has also distributed thermometers to associates in stores and distribution centers and is asking employees to perform health checks before reporting to work.

The retailer has also implemented a temporary bonus program for hourly associates and is providing additional paid time off for associates.

Home Depot has elected to freeze prices nationwide across high-demand product categories and executed a "stop-sale" on N95 masks and is instead donating its inventory to hospitals, healthcare providers, and first responders. The retailer is also donating personal protective equipment and other products essential to hospitals and healthcare workers.