The holiday shopping season has come and gone, and U.S. consumers have largely retrenched to pay off holiday-buying credit card debts and huddle indoors during the coldest months of the year.

But on the horizon are the waning days of winter and that time of year when people emerge from hibernation to assess the conditions of their homes and gardens.

Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) of Mooresville, N.C., is the first of the home improvement retailers to announce its spring 2013 hiring figures: 45,000 seasonal or temporary workers and 9,000 permanent part-timers.

“Spring is our Christmas,” said company representative Karen Cobb, meaning that unlike general merchandise retailers whose peak hiring season is two to three months prior to the holidays, for home improvement this hiring uptick happens as the weather warms up.

Cobb said last year the company hired 40,000 seasonal temps and 8,000 permanent part-timers to fill in during peak hours and weekends as customer engagement associates, cashiers, lawn and garden specialists, loaders and stockers. The increase in hiring this year is “roughly consistent with past hiring patterns,” said Cobb.

Like other retailers, Lowe’s is working to boost meaningful customer engagement, where sales associates are knowledgeable enough about the products and customers’ needs to boost sales and brand loyalty.

These employees generally work from February through the summer as Americans confront indoor and outdoor jobs. The workers are phased in as the weather changes. Stores in the South, where spring-like weather can arrive as early as February, generally see earlier hiring. Lowe’s has 1,745 stores nationwide.