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Hearth & Home September 2018

2018 July Business Climate

July Sales

In early August, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare July 2018 sales to July 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 193 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


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

In July a greater percentage of Hearth and Spa retailers were UP than in the other two categories, although July should have been a much better month for sales of patio and barbecue products.

July 2017 vs. July 2018

In July, although sales in all four categories were UP, it’s Hearth products that led the way with an 8% increase over the prior year.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “Foot traffic picking up. Good strong leads. Feeling a good season coming on with the long cold winter we had. Let’s hope so.”

Delaware: (Hearth, BBQ) “Even though sales were down slightly in July, we are being optimistic about August sales. (Mainly because customers’ projects were behind in the month of July due to the rain.)”

New Jersey: (BBQ) “July in the Northeast was very wet, but gas grills were up. We saw wood and pellet the same as last year and charcoal flat.”

New York: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our foot traffic is down.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Gas fireplaces and inserts are up in sales, wood stoves and insert are also up. Pellet sales are the same.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Slow outdoor products sales most likely because of a lot of rain. New construction and remodeling are strong, which helps fireplaces, but also will be behind due to the wet weather. This should make for a busy fall. We have noticed an uptick in pellet and wood product sales.”

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.

In July, most of the West, the Southwest, and New England experienced Much Above Average temperatures, with California posting a Record Warmest month.

During the three-month period May – July, the entire contiguous United States was burdened with Much Above Average temperatures, with the exception of Utah, New Mexico, and Arkansas, which posted Record Warmest temperatures, and Georgia with Above Average temperatures. Nationwide, it was the hottest May – July in 124 years.

In July, the majority of states experienced Near Average, Below Average, or Above Average precipitation. Maryland and Delaware were at Much Above Average precipitation; Idaho was at Much Below Average, and the main outlier was Pennsylvania (Record Wettest).

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Excellent month for retailing hearth products despite very hot and dry days. Sales volume was low, but sales value was great. Come on fall!”

Florida: (Hearth, Patio) “Trump?”

Kentucky: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Last year was an unusually slow year in patio, so this year we are back on track with normal patio sales.”

North Carolina: (Hearth, BBQ) “Business has been amazing. God has really blessed us. But same as last month, the one thing that is holding us back is people. Cannot find help.”

North Carolina: (Hearth) “Pent-up demand from the past 10 years seems finally to be coming to fruition.”

Oklahoma: (Hearth) “July sales were strong. We are looking forward to the winter. Last winter wasn’t the best. This year we have brought in more wood stoves and accessories and we are offering free installation with the purchase of any wood stove.”

Tennessee: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “July showed a small rebound from the dismal patio sales from the spring and early summer. Patio sales are down two years running. Hearth continues to be our saving grace with unusually high sales for July and for YTD. Strong custom-home builder sales.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It is a struggle to eke out sales, taking some jobs we are not comfortable with and sometimes matching prices. But we are up in sales and healthy in revenue. Fall looks to be a killer season with any cold weather.”

Virginia: (Hearth) “Rain, rain, and flooding all but stopped our sales. In particular was new home construction starts. It all but came to a halt. Which is what we rely on through the spring and summer. As I write this, there seems to be no hope in sight for a long period without rain.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Probably our best summer to date.”


Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It was a good July. Kept pace with last year which was up drastically.”

Illinois: (Hearth, BBQ) “New construction and remodels happening all over the area. Already booked out five to six weeks and it’s only July. Finally had a winter in Illinois and, if summer sales are any indication, we should have an unbelievable season.”

Illinois: (Patio) “Woven and teak continue to be strong sellers. We finally got out of the rainy season. We had some beautiful days for enjoying the patio. As our clients ask us to furnish their homes out-of-state, the biggest challenge is the White Glove delivery process.

“Lack of communication from Delivery Agents (DA), incompetent DAs, no urgency to make a delivery, etc., all make this process very frustrating to our clients and to us. The DAs don’t have any idea that they are the last face our clients see from our company. It scares me to think that the Wayfair’s and other online people who use these same DAs are giving our industry a bad name.”

Illinois: (Hearth) “American manufacturing is making a comeback! Wood-burning is almost dead, pellets are dead, but gas is great!”

Indiana: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “The store is holding its own so far this year, but my in-ground pool sales have skyrocketed beyond belief. I’m sold out to almost the end of the 2019 season already and have sales appointments booked to the mid-part of November as of today. Never seen anything like it since I have been selling pools.”

Indiana: (Hearth, BBQ) “July was down for the majority of the month and then at the end, sales jumped upwards.”

Minnesota: (Hearth, BBQ) “Consumer confidence seems to be pretty high.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “No way around it, just a bad grill season. Hearth remodeling is also down, but it’s not as bad as barbecue sales. Hoping our early-bird hearth sales in August can pick us back up.”

Wisconsin: (Patio) “Awesome – hope it continues!”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Indexincreased marginally in July, following a modest decline in June. The Index now stands at 127.4 (1985=100), up from 127.1 in June.

According to Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions improved, suggesting that economic growth is still strong. However, while expectations continue to reflect optimism in the short-term economic outlook, back-to-back declines suggest consumers do not foresee growth accelerating.”

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) “Average July for our shop. We will see a slowdown until the season begins again in late September. Business has been steady if unremarkable.”

Colorado: (Hearth) “Hot, dog days of summer combined with smoke from the wildfires kept people from even thinking about fireplaces.”

Nevada: (Hearth, BBQ) “Looking good.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “Only one or two sales in July. No activity. Heat wave here in Oregon; people are looking for air conditioners, not stoves.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “Grills are level again for the ninth year in a row. Stove sales are up slightly with new construction. More customers are shopping on their phone while in-store price checking. Customers expect Amazon pricing and delivery. Retail just gets more and more challenging.”


British Columbia: (Hearth) “My feeling is hearth sales are up because of uncertainty of pricing for natural gas and electricity, the other main heating methods in my trading area.”

Newfoundland & Labrador: (Hearth, BBQ) “Sales are up YTD. Wood is strong with gas slower than last year. Pellet sales are very weak. More competitive pressure on price than ever, and that is negatively impacting our margins.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “We had a week’s holiday, store shut down. Very hot, very quiet.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “Dealers need to get their heads out of their butts and learn to stop giving away the margins; that’s how you make $$$, NOT bulk giveaway pricing!”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “July sales really had no change from last year. Losing fireplace sales to Big Box stores and local heating contractors who continue to sell very low-end products.”

Ontario: (BBQ) “Not sure why we are down, although we have more retailers in our space selling similar products. Online sales I’m sure are eating into our sales as well.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 29-Jun-18 27-Jul-18 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,872.87 2,428.37 2,718.37 2,818.82 3.7% -1.9% 14.0%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 31.16 37.20 42.26 13.6% 7.2% 13.3% $1,860.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 162.98 97.25 151.50 153.97 1.6% 13.5% 47.7% $6,430.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.46 44.00 139.70 137.68 -1.4% 32.6% 97.1% $3,000.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 128.77 55.33 118.76 115.50 -2.7% 23.8% 47.7% $10,250.00


(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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