Some of the best insights on what retailers are doing right and wrong often comes from shoppers. 

As an avid gardener, TheStreet's founder and Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer said the lines at Lowe's (LOW) are too long and he tends to like shopping at Home Depot (HD) better.

"To wait in line like that is to miss key gardening time," Cramer said.

While Home Depot is riding high on the continued recovery of the housing market, Lowe's had no such luck lately. It reported second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, Aug. 23, that fell below analysts' estimates.

The home-improvement company reported earnings of $1.57 a share in the quarter ended on Aug. 4, quite below forecasts that called for profit of $1.61 to $1.64 a share. Revenue of $19.5 billion also fell short of estimates, but reflected a 6.8% increase from the same period last year. The one silver lining for Lowe's this quarter was same-store sales, which rose 4.5% and exceeded Wall Street forecasts.

A Lowe's worker.
A Lowe's worker.

"While our results were below our expectations in the first half of this year, the team remains focused on making the necessary investments to improve the customer experience and drive sales," CEO Robert Niblock said in an earnings statement.

These investments include consumer messaging and "incremental customer-facing hours" in stores, he added.

Lowe's had a similar first quarter, in which it reported lackluster earnings that came up short of analysts' predictions.

Across the (suburban) street, Home Depot killed it in the second quarter with earnings of $1.97 a share, either beating or meeting Wall Street estimates depending on the survey. Revenue at Home Depot rose 6.6% to $26.5 billion, again beating analysts' estimates of $26.4 billion.

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