Lowe’s Cos. (LOW), the second-largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, plans to hire 45,000 seasonal workers, 13 percent more than a year earlier, and add 9,000 permanent employees as the housing rebound spurs remodeling.
All of the positions are part-time and aimed at improving service to customers, Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s said today in a statement. The permanent workers will be assigned to the stores’ busiest weekday shopping times. Lowe’s added about 40,000 seasonal workers last year.
The increased hiring signals Lowe’s expects higher sales at stores open at least a year, said Colin McGranahan, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Sales of existing U.S. homes last year rose to the highest level in five years on rising prices, historically low mortgage rates and stronger employment.
“Housing is growing nicely, and the home-improvement market should grow as well,” McGranahan, who’s based in New York, said today in an e-mail. He rates Lowe’s market perform, the equivalent of a hold.
Spending on home improvement may accelerate this year after rising an estimated 9 percent in 2012, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. The center projects homeowner-improvement spending will rise 11 percent to an annualized $127 billion in the first quarter, followed by increases of 17 percent in the second quarter and 20 percent in the third quarter.
Sales of existing homes will rise about 7.2 percent to 4.98 million this year, the highest since 2007, according to the median estimate of economists and housing analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Prices will gain 3.3 percent after an estimated 4.5 percent jump in 2012, according to the forecasters.
For all of 2012, 4.65 million homes were sold despite an unexpected drop in December due to a shrinking supply of houses, figures from the National Association of Realtors in Washington showed today.
Lowe’s rose 1.2 percent to $37.44 at the close in New York. Home Depot Inc. (HD), the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, advanced 0.4 percent to $65.75.