The online business of Lowe’s Home Improvement has had many fits and starts over the past few years. Although our CE Transact credit card data has been accurately tracking the company’s total U.S. sales along with those of competitor Home Depot, our newly launched CE Receipt data is our first data offering to be able to break out the e-commerce channel. In today’s Insight Flash, we dig into online home improvement trends such as how online share compares to total company for Home Depot and Lowe’s, how the two stack up in terms of items per transaction, and which one leads in price per item.
Home Depot sales have long led those of Lowe’s, and in the last year its share of total spend in our CE Transact data was 60%. However, the company’s leading position is even more evident in the online channel captured by CE Receipt, where its share went as high as 74% of total spend in fall 2020.
Interestingly, Home Depot’s lead doesn’t come from a wider range of products being purchased online. Lowe’s has actually led in the number of items purchased per transaction for all of 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021. Although Home Depot has been narrowing the gap since April, it widened again in September with shoppers buying an average of 8.1 items per transaction at Lowe’s versus only 5.7 at Home Depot. Interestingly, while Home Depot tends to see the most items per transaction in April and May at 7-8 items (ex-pandemic effects in 2020), a strong gardening business at Lowe’s creates an earlier bump in March of 12-13 items per transaction pre-pandemic.
Items per Online Transaction
Of course, number of items isn’t the whole story, and Home Depot’s larger share comes from a much higher average price per item. Over the last year and a half, the price per item online at Home Depot has been on average 40% higher than at Lowe’s. Shoppers seem to be more likely to come to Home Depot for their big ticket purchases, a hurdle Lowe’s will have to overcome to succeed in e-commerce.