Chances are, it's not going to be tough finding someone to help you at Lowe's ($LOW) this holiday shopping season. Lowe's will announce earnings Wednesday, November 20 - analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for EPS $1.35 for the previous quarter; shares are up 25% YTD. 

What's clear, at first glance, is that staffing at Lowe's shot up in the third quarter, before dropping in Q4 - this may be simply the result of posted jobs being filled with new hires.

From summer 2019, until mid-October, all Lowe's job postings more than tripled in number, hitting a high of 20,000 earlier this year. 

Our second chart tracks just the retail and consumer-facing positions (including customer-facing roles on the phone, via the web, or in-person). And they make up just about all of 2019's postings increase (more than 90% of total job postings at their 2019 peak). 

A closer look reveals that the overwhelming majority of all job postings fall under the designation of 'non-corporate,' as well. Put another way - it's clear that Lowe's focus is on the consumer right now.

It's an increasingly common theme - major US brick-and-mortar retailers are seeking out far more temporary help than they have in past holiday hiring cycles. JCPenney, which recently topped earnings expectations on lower-than-expected losses, has also put this strategy to work. It remains to be seen for some retailers, like JCPenney and Lowe's, what the long-term strategy will be for these workers - or if they may simply shift into a staff management process focused more on fewer full-time staff. 

But, as so many other brick-and-mortar companies are falling prey to the increasingly expanding app economy, it's unclear whether one of the best-defended physical retail businesses (home improvement) will be able to maintain the trajectory that companies like Lowe's and Home Depot have for years enjoyed. Both stocks are hovering near all-time highs as of Monday morning. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading:

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