Lowe's joined the list of retailers raising pay for its employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Although not a grocery store, Lowe's locations have remained open to sell home improvement products, meaning its employees are often in contact with customers. In recognition of their work, the company agreed to a temporary $2 wage increase for full-time, part-time and seasonal hourly associates for hours worked in April at U.S. and Canada stores.
"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 COE and President Marvin Ellison said in a statement on Thursday. "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. Today's wage increase for our hourly associates is just another way I want to thank our 300,000 associates for their heroic actions in serving the needs of our communities. I've never been prouder of our team, and they have my commitment that we will continue to adjust as the situation evolves."
Lowe's also announced that all stores will close at 7 p.m. every day to give employees more time to restock and thoroughly clean stores for the next day. Masks and gloves are also be made available for employees who want them. The stores are donating N95 medical masks to local hospitals instead of being sold. Some employees will also be working as "social distancing ambassadors" responsible for keeping track of customer flow in garden centers and the fronts of stores for social distancing.
Store layouts have also been changed with social distancing in mind. Displays were moved to keep aisles, while the areas where people pick up orders will be expanded. Floor markers were also added to help people keep six feet apart, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing.
Other retailers have temporarily raised wages for employees who have to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Kroger introduced a $2 per hour "hero bonus" for hourly grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees. The pay will continue through April 18. The company's full-time employees previously received a $300 one-time bonus, while part-time employees received a $150 one-time bonus.
Pharmacy chain Rite Aid announced Monday it will hire 5,000 new employees. The company started its own "hero pay" program, where employees receive a $2 per hour increase, which will continue through at least May 2. Current retail management also received a $1,000 "hero bonus" and the employee discount was bumped up to 35 percent through the end of April.