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Home retailers adding jobs in isles

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Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Co. said yesterday they are hiring more than 110,000 seasonal workers as they gear up for the biggest selling season of the year.

Atlanta-based Home Depot is hiring more than 60,000, including 100 in Hawaii, according to company spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher. The additional work force is on pace with last year’s seasonal hiring. Home Depot has seven stores in Hawaii, including three on Oahu (Honolulu, Pearl City and Kapolei).

Lowe’s, based in Mooresville, N.C., is hiring 50,000, up from 43,000 a year ago. Calls to company spokesmen were not returned. Lowe’s has three stores in Hawaii — Kahului, Kona and Waipahu — with a fourth under construction in Iwilei that is expected to open later this year.

Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, said the biggest selling season runs from March through mid-June.

"It is about driving traffic," said Craig Menear, corporate executive vice president of merchandising for Home Depot. "Spring is our Christmas."

The retailer had 317,000 employees as of Jan. 31, 2010, according to an annual securities filing. About 61 percent worked full time.

Starting next month, Home Depot will roll out discounts on cooking grills, garden tools and other outdoor supplies. Marketed as "Spring Black Friday," the promotions will run over four weekends across the U.S. Where and when will depend on the climate and temperatures of each region, Menear said.

Home Depot and Lowe’s are bolstering sales efforts as unemployment eases and consumer confidence rises.

Last month, Lowe’s announced plans to add 8,000 to 10,000 weekend positions to improve staffing during the chain’s busiest time of the week. It also cut the jobs of 1,700 middle managers in stores.

Household purchases, which make up about 70 percent of the economy, grew at a 4.4 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, the fastest since the first three months of 2006, Commerce Department figures showed last month.

Star-Advertiser reporter Dave Segal contributed to this story.

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