Despite Joe Biden’s prediction that the country is facing a “dark winter” because of the pandemic, others are not so pessimistic.
Take Lowe’s, for example.
Headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, Lowe’s is a retail company specializing in home improvement. Lowe’s has over 1,700 locations coast to coast in the U.S. and over 470 stores in Canada. Apparently foreseeing a bright holiday season, Lowe’s delivered a double-barreled dose of good economic news:
1. The company will be hiring 20,000 seasonal employees specifically for the holidays.
2. Lowe’s is adding 2,500 permanent jobs at its distribution centers.
As an extra incentive to workers, Lowe’s also announced another $100 million in cash bonuses for front-line workers.
Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO tweeted: “As the holiday season approaches, we’re especially grateful for our front-line associates who continue to maintain the highest level of customer service, and this bonus is our way of saying thank you and providing a little extra financial support for their families during this time.”
So, full-time hourly Lowe’s associates can expect a $300 bonus, and part-time and seasonal workers will get $150 in their November 13 paychecks. This will be the sixth bonus for employees since the beginning of the pandemic.
Joining the hiring cavalcade, Target announced a hiring campaign for the holiday season. With outlets in every U.S. state, Target job seekers can log on and search for available openings.
Meanwhile, Walmart announced that it is “rolling out amazing holiday season pay increases for all Associates to earn up to $8 more per hour” from September through the end of December 2020.
The above hiring increases, of course, depend on sustained buying and a reopening of the economy. Nevertheless, marketing gurus predict that even with relaxed coronavirus lockdown measures in place, shoppers plan to stay home and shop from the couch.
National Retail Federation’s Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz observed in early October: “I am cautiously optimistic about the fourth quarter in terms of the economy and consumer spending.”
Kleinhenz hedges on his optimism: “…but the outlook is clouded with uncertainty pivoting on COVID-19 infection rates. The recession appears to be behind us and the re-opening of the economy over the past several months has created momentum that should carry through the fourth quarter. The test is whether consumer spending will be sustained amid wildcard puzzle pieces including policy surprises, the election and a resurgent virus.”
As the election winds down and a new coronavirus stimulus package once again infuses temporary life in the economy, those payouts to the consumers will help Christmas shopping. Nevertheless, much of the economy appears to be recovering on its own and employment growth as well as consumer confidence are on the uptick.
The outcome of the general election probably won’t affect the average consumer’s Christmas shopping habits. If the pandemic continues to spike, however, shoppers may hum to the tune of “Home for the Holidays” and shop on the Internet.