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Hearth & Home February 2017

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

How Hot Was It?

Well, 2016 wasn’t the hottest year since recording of temperatures began in 1895. It was the second hottest. July, 2016, wasn’t only hot – it was the hottest month ever recorded.

Fifteen of the 16 hottest years have occurred since 2000.

In an article written by Heidi Cullen that appeared in The New York Times (August 20, 2016), she projects that the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket by the end of this century if nothing is done to slow global warming.

As an example, Phoenix experienced an average of 92 days with temperatures over 100 degrees during the period 1991-2010. By 2060, it will have reached 132 days, and by 2100, it will be 163 days.

We don’t have to worry about that last number, because we won’t be around. But our children will be.

Right now we’re already noticing a lengthening of the spring and fall seasons, as warm temperatures extend our outdoor living time. Global warming is certainly a boon for outdoor furnishings, be it furniture, grills, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits or spas.

It is not a friend of the hearth industry’s main products, which are fireplaces and stoves that warm the interior of the home, and the extension of warmer weather into the months of November and December cuts into the very heart of the hearth selling season.

Considering only the products covered by Hearth & Home, shade products – umbrellas, pergolas, awnings, pavilions, cabanas and canopies – have to be the greatest beneficiaries of global warming. As the beginning of an article in this issue, entitled “Seeking Shade,” correctly puts it:

“It’s the great irony of the outdoor lifestyle. Everyone wants to be outdoors, but nobody wants to be in the sun.” (See Seeking Shade)

Colorful Comments

Results from our Annual Hearth Survey are pouring in. The best part of our surveys, whether monthly or annual, is always the comments from retailers. Here are two that we found particularly colorful:

Alaska: “Our sales are down because of the loss of our Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Our state government, by spending billions of dollars from oil revenues and taking risks, put all of us in the red. The governor decided to steal 700 million from all the folks of Alaska and use it for his budget.

“Therefore, the folks of Alaska did not have the expected $2,000 to spend. For a state with fewer than a million folks, they are spending like we are the state of New York. End of discussion. Expect that the state will go bankrupt and many folks will move out like they did in the ’80s.”

Ontario: “Been in this business for 40 years. Seen it up and seen it down. Cold winters and non-existent winters. It is my belief that weather has little to do with the future. In the beginning there were few hearth shops and they were far apart; we all tried real hard to grow our businesses.

“Remember the energy crisis, the introduction of the current gas fireplace (remember the dog-bone logs of the Valor Homeflame, or the box design introduced by CFM), the resurgence of the processed fuel burners, but most important was the Colin Adamson approach to business that became the norm here.

“During the growth of the industry, and the subsequent high point years, dealers were being set up like hay bales in a field. Now, as we are firmly set in the new balance, the early-buying frenzy is gone, most folks have already purchased at least once, and we are still looking through the same rose-colored glasses. Simply put, the numbers achieved in the initial upswing are not going to be the leveled norm.”

See you in Atlanta!

More Stories in this Issue

Heart & Soul

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Grillworks has parlayed its business from backyard hobby to big-city restaurants, from residential use to commercial favorite.

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Seeking Shade

By Mark Brock

We all want to be outdoors, but as temperatures increase, so too does the need for shade. It’s a great time to be selling shade products!

» Continue

Still Smokin' Hot

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Smokers and kamados continue to do well, thanks to a passionate fan base and growing interest in low-and-slow cooking.

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Outside The Box

By James E. Houck

Manufacturers, are you interested in a new opportunity?

Here are a few that you might consider, one of which involves shedding your present business model of high-cost, high-technology products, for one of low-cost, very simple units – but with 3 billion potential customers.

» Continue

2016 December Business Climate

In early January, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and patio products, asking them to compare December 2016 sales to December 2015. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 197 useable returns.

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