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Hearth & Home April 2016

2015 Barbecue Retail Survey Report

2015 wasn’t a spectacular year for sales of barbecue products, but it was far better than many other years during the downturn.

Ed. Note: During the third week of January, Hearth & Home sent a survey to 1,500 retailers of barbecue products. A total of 172 were returned and usable.

At the end of the survey, we asked the following questions:

Question: Do you consider the margin you make on your barbecue products to be too low?

Are more of your customers creating Outdoor Rooms?

What could barbecue manufacturers do to help you sell more of their products?

U.S. Barbecue Product Sales

Year-to-Year Sales Change

Once again sales of barbecue grills were down from the prior year, but this time they’re down from a strong showing in 2014 (+13%). That makes the negative 1.8 percent look much better, doesn’t it?


“Many manufacturers sell over the Internet or at Big Box stores. We will drop anyone who sells over the Internet, and will put less emphasis on anyone who sells to Big Box stores, but even those two things considered, the overall influence barbecue has on our total sales is too low to worry about. Also, the margins are too low to get excited about. Our industry made a big mistake when it decided to go the way of patio and barbecue over alternative energy – especially solar.”

Delaware: “We need bigger profit margins, less competition from on-line sales.”

Maine: “The outdoor kitchen concept is still very new and has limited interest in our location. Most consumers tend to gravitate quickly to mass merchants due to price headwinds. Explaining the difference to make the sale can be difficult.”

Massachusetts: “Manufacturers should provide more knowledge on the products; also they should offer to assist with promotional events.”

New Hampshire: “Margins too low? Yes. Raise MAP so I can make enough money to CARE about selling more.”

New Jersey: “Stop selling on the Internet.”

New Jersey: “There’s no profit in grills. No money to advertise.”

New York: “Due to Big Box sales, margins are too small. Issues with barbecue sales: assembly – lots; margins – Big Box Stores – can’t sell lower middle-end products. Cannot stock inventory.”

New York: “No. Yes. Better stocks at hand.”

New York: “Offer independent retailers a better purchase price. Encourage brick and mortar store sales when customers inquire about their products vs. the Internet or Box stores, because this is where the customer will get educated and receive future service on the product, so why not encourage the customer to purchase from them (the independent retailers). Only warranty products sold from reputable retailers. Trace serial numbers to follow where product was purchased.”

Pennsylvania:“Stop selling direct to the consumer.”

Sales of Barbecue Products

2015 Compared to 2014

Sales of barbecue products increased by 11 percent in Canada, a dramatic contrast to sales in the U.S. and, in particular, sales in the West (-11%).


2015 Sales of Barbecue Products

Retailers Up/Down/Same

In each region of the U.S., the majority of retailers posted barbecue sales results that were close to the Same as the prior year.


Kentucky: “STOP SELLING ONLINE! Enforce MAP pricing so we’re not forced to price-match online retailers or lose the sale. Take out a national advertising campaign - Napoleon did this last year and we saw a tremendous change in the amount of requests for the brand.”

Louisiana: “Yes, margins are too low. Yes, more customers are creating Outdoor Rooms. Manufacturers should provide co-op to help with freight costs,  and should increase margins.”

Mississippi: “Yes. Yes. Come up with a plan to fight the Big Box Stores.”

North Carolina: “Better terms.”

Tennessee: “Don’t sell on-line. Provide us with exclusive selling areas.”

Texas: “Manufacturers could be more innovative with new designs.”

Texas: “Barbecue grill margins are not hearth margins. Remember that grills come and go, dealers do not!”

Texas: “If they want to help the specialty retailers, manufacturers HAVE to find a way to prevent ‘out of market’ on-line sales. They should also consider setting firm territories in Large/Metroplex-style urban markets. The average grill buyer in the Dallas market is buying value-based product on-line so they can cut the cost of construction of their outdoor space. As far as my company goes, we will not be in the barbecue business any longer. Cost per square foot of my retail store has finally capsized!”

2016 Sales Expectations
Sales expectations

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents are forecasting an increase in barbecue sales for 2016.

Derivation of Gross Revenues
Barbecue Retailers
Derivation of Gross Revenues of Barbecue Retailers

Specialty retailers of barbecue products derive only 21 percent of their revenue from that category; their main product category is hearth products, by far.

Main Factor For A Down Sales
Year in 2015
main factor for a down sales year in 2014

Similar to last year, specialty barbecue retailers who had a down year attributed that fact mainly to competition from mass merchants.

Number of Gas Grills Sold – 2015
Number of Gas Grills Sold — 2014

Only 24 percent of specialty barbecue retailers sell more than 100 units each year, which is identical to last year.


Michigan: “Margins are ok. You decide on price. Sales help. Outdoor Rooms are popular and seem to be like fashion waves at the beach as fashion comes and goes. Add lights, options.”

Nebraska: “Yes. Yes. More promotion of brands. Customers only know a few brands (Weber, Big Green Egg).”

Ohio: “I would consider our margin to be a little bit on the low side in barbecue. We have very little interest in Outdoor Rooms. I think our manufacturers do a pretty good job of marketing their products and there’s not much they could do to help sales (besides lowering their price).”

Ohio: “No, I don’t think margins are too low.”

Wisconsin: “Barbecue manufacturers have one motive – move mass quantities of units. Quality is sometimes a factor but, more than not, it has to be shiny and big. Everyone is knocking off everyone else. Instead of differentiating, all we see is clones. No new original ideas. Just a twist on what is already out there. Manufacturers should print the thickness and type of stainless steel used in their grills.”

Barbecue Product Categories

2015 Compared to 2014

Kamados was the only category showing somewhat strong growth in 2015, while the other “hot” category – Pellet Grills – posted a negative .5 percent year.


Gas Grills by Price Range


Yes, Virginia, there is a sweet spot in price for gas grills; it’s between $800 and $1,999. Fifty-five percent of all gas grill sales fall within that range.


California: “Better marketing, including brochures. Emphasize bullet points.”

California: “Make better availability of products to small businesses, similar to Big Box stores. Better pricing to small business.”

Colorado: “We are finding out that people are looking for grills that are a complete package.”

Colorado: “More products manufactured in U.S. Utilizing cast iron is a clear connection with sales of cast-iron stoves.”

Colorado: “I think manufacturers are doing a fine job!”

Oregon: “Yes, margins are too low when you consider assembly and delivery. Yes, Outdoor Rooms are something customers are looking at more and getting more popular. The hardest thing to deal with is still the Big Box stores. So many grills look exactly the same and profits seem to shrink a little bit each year.”

Washington: “Barbecue manufacturers need to monitor Internet sales as many outfits are selling below MAP on luxury grills.”


British Columbia: “Provide more hands-on demos for our customers and our staff, increase margins, implement MAP policy, have a barbecue school to educate our staff to the new products.”

New Brunswick: “Sales training.”

Ontario: “Margins should be a minimum 33 percent. More people ask about built-in barbecues but get turned off by the prices.”

Ontario: “The big stores give away the grills. It’s best to let them trade dollars with low margins. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Number of Brands Sold
Sales expectations

Only 17 percent of specialty barbecue retailers carry more than six brands of grills. In fact, 62 percent carry no more than four brands.

Began Carrying Barbecues – 2015
Derivation of Gross Revenues of Barbecue Retailers

The network of specialty barbecue retailers is composed of well-seasoned professionals who know their business. Thirty-five percent have been selling barbecues for 20 years or more.

More Industry Data

2020 June Business Climate

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2020 May Business Climate

In early June, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare May 2020 sales to May 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 229 useable returns.

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2020 April Business Climate

In early May, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare April 2020 sales to April 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 234 useable returns.

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In early March, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare February 2020 sales to February 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 186 useable returns.

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2020 January Business Climate

In early February, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare January 2020 sales to January 2019. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 219 useable returns.

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