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Home Depot Is Spending Big to Keep Lucrative Contractors Happy

  • Distribution centers target group that generates 45% of sales
  • Company also seeks to ease e-commerce pressures on its stores
Workers move building materials on a forklift at Home Depot’s flatbed distribution center in Stonecrest, Georgia.
Workers move building materials on a forklift at Home Depot’s flatbed distribution center in Stonecrest, Georgia.Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

Inside an expansive and noisy distribution center just east of Atlanta, Home Depot Inc. is trying to solve a problem that’s plaguing its stores: large orders from pro shoppers. 

Contractors’ needs are very different than the average customer’s, and while they make up only 5% of Home Depot’s shoppers, they account for 45% of its $132 billion in annual sales. They often buy bulky items in vast quantities and want -- or rather demand -- to receive the orders on a stringent timeline. That’s become an especially intense problem for Home Depot, as with other retailers, amid the supply-chain crunch that’s upended stocking and transport around the country and the world.