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Hearth & Home June 2015

2015 April Business Climate


April Retail Sales

In early May, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare April 2015 sales to April 2014. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 209 useable returns.


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Stock Watch


Sixty-nine percent of hearth retailers were up in April, or showed No Change from the prior year; in the patio industry that figure was 72 percent, in barbecue it was 81 percent, and in Spas/Hot tubs it was 85 percent.


13 MONTH YEAR-TO-YEAR-YEAR RETAILER SALES
April 2014 Through April 2015

On average, specialty hearth dealers were up two percent in April, barbecue retailers were up six percent, spa retailers were up 23 percent, and patio retailers were down four percent.


Retailer Comments

Northeast

Connecticut: (Hearth) “Year-to-date we are about the same as last year, but it’s encouraging to see an increase over last April, which was our best month ever. Oil creeping up in price and long winters make for good business.”

Delaware: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We saw a small slump in the beginning of spring. April rebounded nicely.”

Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Sales remain steady with seasonal demand increasing with the weather improvement.”

Maine: (Hearth) “Since I have been in business, this has been the worst month.”

Massachusetts: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We were hit pretty badly with the weather, so in January, February and part of March, our sales were down from last year. Now that it’s nicer out, I think customers who were experiencing Cabin Fever are ready to shop. I also think a lot of people’s grills were probably damaged due to the bad weather, so they’re looking to purchase and upgrade in some cases.”

New Hampshire: (Hearth) “Fewer unit sales but with higher price tags and more high-end units for larger projects. However, gross sales of hearth products remained the same.”

New Jersey: (Hearth) “April 2015 was the same as 2014. Not bad. Thankful. Still busy.”

New York: (BBQ, Spas) “Best April in 10 years. Good traffic and serious buyers.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “There’s still interest in alternate fuels, but few are buying.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, BBQ) “2014 was terrific. The Northeast winter of 2015 still has folks in a buying mood, even as the trees bud and flowers bloom.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Regarding hearth products: Retail floor traffic is down. Contractor business is up slightly.”


Weather Report

For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflect the temperature ranking for the period since records began in 1895.

In April, while most of the rest of the country was experiencing Above Normal or Near Normal weather, Florida posed its Record Warmest year since reporting began in 1895.

This year, California experienced its Record Warmest February, March and April, while, 3,000 miles away, New York State experienced its Record Coldest.

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South

Arkansas: (Hearth) “Horrible, horrible month for retail. Too much rain. Set a new 18-year record for the most days in any month with zero sales! Go figure.”

Georgia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Grill sales are up, mostly due to a few big sales this year over last year.”

Louisiana: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Rain, rain and more rain!”

Mississippi: (Patio) “This spring is showing a nice recovery a year after our town was hit by a tornado.”

North Carolina: (Hearth) “Not sure why the sudden drop in sales in April. March was pretty good. May is starting off super GREAT, so far! I sure hope this is a sign of things to come.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Still some traffic of homeowners wanting to add/upgrade their existing home. Usually pretty dead by now.”

Tennessee: (Hearth, BBQ) “April was not bad, about the same as last year, just kind of sluggish.”

Texas: (Hearth, BBQ) “Manufacturers/distributors are making it difficult. Very few will handle problems easily. I will always stay with manufacturers who help me get problems handled easily.”

Midwest

Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “While we did see a drastic decline in sales from April of ’14, we are still up very slightly year-to-date.”

Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “April still not a good indicator in Northern Illinois. May/June more indicative.”

Indiana: (Hearth) “We had a better than average April, but compared to the blowout last year, sales were down. Last year’s sales will be hard to match again soon.”

Michigan: (Patio, BBQ) “With the cooler spring temperatures, we have not had our regular traffic flow for this time of year. Hopefully the traffic flow will go up with the ambient temperature.”

Missouri: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “The spring rains really slowed us down for April. It’s still raining. Hoping it lets up soon. Economic outlook is much improved. Still a good first quarter overall. Expecting a record breaking year.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “Still going strong with fireplace remodeling projects. Grills have not started out strong. Hoping for some warmer weather in May to bring out the barbecue customers.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “The cold weather has dampened grill sales to the point that we have already been getting emails from manufacturers with additional discounts to buy inventory.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “April was a bad month for hearth sales – extremely down. However, May has started out with a bang.”

West

Arizona: (Hearth) “Monsoon season is starting to pick up. Great for sales.”

California: ((Hearth) “Lots of irons in the fire. The million dollar homes are coming through!”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “April was the slowest month in the last five years for all our sales.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “Not a good month, at all.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Big April!”

Canada

Ontario: (Patio) “Looking to be a decent year so far. Consumer interest is there, but the high cost of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar has driven our prices up.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Very good April sales. Nice change.

Ontario: (BBQ) “Cold weather is keeping customers away. Did most of the sales during the last week of the month.”

Ontario: (Patio, BBQ) “It is looking like a potential increase in patio as interest levels are up.”

Quebec: (Hearth) “Our wood stove sales are going up with Blaze King’s wonderful products.”

Saskatchewan: (Hearth, BBQ) “Things are pretty slow in Saskatchewan. I think we are feeling the effects of the low price of oil and all the layoffs in the oil patch and other areas too.”



Stock Watch

COMPANY – EXCHANGESYMBOL52 WEEKWeek Ending% CHANGEMARKET CAPITALIZATION
    High Low 27-Mar-15 24-Apr-15 4 Week 26 Week 52 Week ($000,000)
HNI Corporation (a) HNI 57.74 34.62 53.80 51.98 -3.4% 22.3% 47.5% $2,410.0
Pool Corporation (b) POOL 72.55 51.61 69.14 67.59 -2.2% 17.0% 16.0% $2,880.0
Rentech (b)(e) RTK 2.70 0.99 1.15 1.18 2.6% NA NA $273.0
Restoration Hardware Holdings (a) RH 102.00 60.01 96.92 91.89 -5.2% 18.6% 46.7% $3,900.0
Wayfair, Inc. (a)(c) W 39.43 16.74 32.33 32.74 1.3% 30.1% NA $2,470.0

(a) = New York Stock Exchange
(b) = NASDAQ
(c) = Wayfair, Inc. issued their initial public offering on October 1, 2014. Shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol W. We will include respective data points as they occur.
(d) = OTCQB
(e) = Rentech is the parent company of New England Wood Pellet, which is the parent company of Allegheny Pellet.


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