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Hearth & Home May 2018

2018 March Business Climate

March Sales

In early April Hearth & Home sent a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio and barbecue products, asking them to compare March 2018 sales to March 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 186 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


RETAILER SALES – U.S. AND CANADA – March 2018 vs. March 2017

In March, 47% of Hearth retailers were UP, while Patio products, Spas and Barbecue products were UP 26%, 20% and 20%, respectively.

March 2017 vs. March 2018

In March, sales of Patio products were UP 16%; sales of both Hearth products and Barbecues were UP 8%, and sales of Spas were UP 2%.


January 1 – March 31, 2018

For the period January 1 to March 31, 56% of Hearth retailers are UP, while 22% of Patio retailers, 20% of Barbecue retailers, and 21% of Spa retailers are UP as well.


January 1 – March 31, 2018

Year-to-date, sales of Hearth products are UP 11%, sales of Patio products are UP 10%, sales of Barbecue products are the same as last year, and sales of Spas are UP 5%.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “With the long winter, glad to see Year-to-Date sales up from last year. With oil creeping up and the hard winter we just had, we expect a good year this year.”

Delaware: (Hearth, BBQ) “Hearth is up both in March 2017 vs. March 2018 and Year-to-Date, but would be highly skewed due to low sales in 2017.”

Maine: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “March is typically the worst sales month for us. We have been working hard to jumpstart spring projects and that has helped lift March sales.”

Maryland: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Start of a great season.”

New Jersey: (BBQ) “The season is just starting, so no changes.”

New York: (Hearth) “Slow spring – very unstable weather.”

New York: (Hearth) “Second month in a row our sales were up. Let’s hope this trend continues into spring and summer. Perhaps the customer has come to recognize the importance of knowing and depending on a trained dealer.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Colder than normal weather helped extend the hearth season.”

Weather Report

For the following weather charts, the numbers for each state reflects the temperature and percipitation rankings for the period since records began in 1895.

Ten states experienced Much Above Average temperatures in March; all other states in the contiguous U.S. were at Near Average or Below Average for the month.

For the three-month period January to March, Arizona, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Maine experienced Much Above Average temperatures, while 22 other states were at Above Average for the period.

In March, North Dakota experienced Much Above Average precipitation, while New Jersey, Illinois, South Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, and California were at Above Average levels.

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Gained a little on the Year-to-Date shortage this month, but nothing to brag about. Weather was the main factor slowing down floor traffic, plus people wanting this winter to be over. Wood has been slow, and gas and electric have picked up this year.”

Oklahoma: (Hearth) “2018 is looking good if the economy doesn’t change.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Internet sales with free shipping and, in some cases, no tax are a problem.”


Indiana: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “We normally would have had some warm weather by now, but we didn’t even have two 50-degree days together in the month of March. The start of April isn’t looking much better for at least the first week and a half. Our annual spring sale for the store starts on the 16th, and we need some warmth for that to be successful.”

Michigan: (Spas) “Weather – weather – weather. Up & Down like a roller coaster plays a big part in our product line-up as far as sales go. With a bustling economy we were expecting a lot more. Side note: You may love or hate our president, but it appears we brick-and-mortar people now have a friend at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Everyone should write him a note thanking him for looking out for our brick-and-mortar stores.”

Minnesota: (Hearth, BBQ) “Lots of builders and potential customers are bringing in plans and are ready to start building.”

Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “March was very cold and wet. As a result, heating sales continued very strong. Conversely, barbecue sales were down because of the bad weather.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Activity through the door has been very good; it could be due to all the advertising we’re doing or just because the economy is doing well. Summer will be full in no time. We have jobs scheduled into August (mostly new construction projects – big ones). We’re seeing a lot of remodel and upgrade for old ZC boxes.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Great month! We are training a new employee so it is a little slower going. A significant number of future jobs have been booked.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Very strong builder and retail markets. Product selection toward larger and more feature-rich units.”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index decreased in March, following an increase in February. The Index now stands at 127.7 (1985=100), down from 130.0 in February.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.”

A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth. The Index is based on a probability-design random sample conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company.

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California: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We’re not sure why, but it has been very quiet.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Slower first quarter so far.”


British Columbia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “March started slowly and stayed slow until the last week when things really picked up, so we finished up 6%. That’s not great, but up is up. Cooler spring than we are accustomed to, hope the warm weather is coming soon!”

Ontario: (BBQ) “After a long cold winter, barbecue sales took off like a rocket and brought us back to first-quarter sales volume of last year.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “After a super February we expected to lose some ground in March. A little April break and we’re off to another hot start – optimism at its best!”

Ontario: (Hearth) “Very cold March, but we are overall 14% higher than last year for the months of January through March. Good sales – cold weather helps.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 2-Mar-18 30-Mar-18 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,872.87 2,328.94 2,691.25 2,640.87 -1.9% 4.8% 11.8%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 48.32 31.16 37.44 36.09 -3.6% -13.0% -21.7% $1,600.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 150.26 97.25 142.46 146.22 2.6% 35.2% 22.5% $6,000.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 109.53 41.52 80.25 95.28 18.7% 35.5% 106.0% $1,910.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 100.14 40.12 80.34 67.53 -15.9% 0.2% 66.8% $5,960.00


(a) = Standard & Poor’s 500 is based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. It is considered one of the best representations of the U.S. stock market, and a bellwether for the U.S. economy.
(b) = New York Stock Exchange
(c) = NASDAQ

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