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Hearth & Home December 2018

2018 October Business Climate

October Sales

In early November, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare October 2018 sales to October 2017. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 232 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


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

Spas and Hearth products are on a roll! Sixty-three percent of Hearth retailers and 77% of Spa retailers were either UP or the Same in October.

October 2018 vs. October 2017

In October, Hearth retailers posted a 19% increase over the same period in the previous year; Spa retailers beat that with a 21% gain.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “Much better October than last year. Big push once cool weather came. Traffic still strong. Should end the year strong.”

Connecticut: (Hearth) “Sales were slow in August and September, but it picked up last month and we are ahead of last year.”

New Hampshire: (Hearth) “We’ve been hit with two price increases for appliances during the month of October 2018. Sure, there are tariff costs and, more likely, rumors of tariff increases than actual happenings. Smells like just a convenient reason to jump ahead with already high prices. We have always stayed with products that are not available online, however, lately service and repair parts are taking a hit from aftermarket components selling for less than our cost. We will continue to provide the best in service and products – just as long as we can.”

New York: (Hearth) “NYSERDA rules backlogged installs – four weeks.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Business is fantastic! Big increase in wood stoves and gas fireplaces this year. Business has been booming since the 2016 election.”

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “The dismal weather here in the Northeast, combined with rising propane and fuel oil costs, have spiked hearth sales in October. Pellet stoves are doing better than last year, but natural gas inserts are still king. We are also feeling the effects of Internet vendors in our hearth accessories department (fireplace tools, kettles, log hoops, etc.), but thankfully most Internet vendors haven’t figured out how to facilitate home delivery of wood stoves – yet.

“Challenges continue to be with employees’ absenteeism, don’t give a crap-itis, and difficulty passing pre-employment drug screens. The business climate in our state is difficult, with minimum wage hiking up to $15/hour, meaning wage increases for all employees at every level in our organization. Workman’s comp rates for installers are now around $27 per $100. OUCH!”

New York: (Hearth, BBQ) “Four units shy of doubling last year’s October sales. What a month, it’s hard to get caught up.”

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.

Five states – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware – experienced Much Above Average temperatures in October.

New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida experienced Record Warmest temperatures in the three-month period, while 20 other states posted Much Above Average temperatures.

Texas set a Record Wettest month in October, while eight other states experienced Much Above Average precipitation. Nationwide, it was the sixth wettest October since 1895.

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Great month for hearth retail sales for wood stoves and chimney systems. Buyers finally started spending some money and thinking about winter. Vent-free gas fireplaces were also fairly strong. October sales put our YTD ahead of 2016 and 2017, and December bookings are already ahead of 2017. We hope to have a good 2018 overall.”

Tennessee: (Hearth) “It appears sales have moved backwards in the calendar 4-6 weeks. October was a warmer than usual period and sales reflected that.”

Texas: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Retail sales numbers feel really good, but hearth is taking a big chunk of that pie! The big, expensive products are driving the dollars. Tickets of $30,000 drive up the totals quickly. They’re no more hassle than the $2,000 – $3,000 tickets! Grills are OK, furniture is OK, as always, gas service is the stress point to handle!”

Virginia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Temps in the high 70s and low 80s late in the season have crushed our preseason sales of hearth products. It seems everyone is waiting to see what the weather brings. Sales of larger ticket items such as gas and wood inserts are down by 85%. We are very busy with service calls; that is the category that is carrying us at this point. We hope that the first REAL frost will excite these customers.”

Virginia: (Hearth) “About mid-October, the weather finally started to get better and drier. New home construction started to pick up, as did sales and annual service calls. And it hasn’t slowed up even a bit. In fact, at this writing there has been a steady increase. Hallelujah! Bring on the cold temps and snow!”


Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It was a typical October; weather was pretty good, and we’re still getting some barbecue sales!”

Iowa: (Hearth, BBQ) “We’re currently up around 10% for the year, but we SMASHED our monthly sales record in October!”

Illinois: (Hearth) “The end of September and the month of October were just crazy. Many, many service calls. Log sales are way up. October was up more, which helped the year totals.”

Illinois: (Hearth) “Too much nice weather! Need a cold snap to wake them up!”

Michigan: (Hearth) “Early-buys with homeowners and new construction contributed to the increase in sales for the most part. I do believe the economy has had a part in increased sales. It’s been the busiest I have ever been!”

Minnesota: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our worst summer and fall ever.”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “While we closed on some large fireplace projects, overall sales were rather flat. We’re trying to make up ground from a poor barbecue season so we need hearth sales to exceed average. We’re hoping that, with the snow falling early in Northeast Ohio, we get a lot more foot traffic/sales opportunities.”

Ohio: (Hearth, Patio) “We are keeping ourselves on track – the beginning of the month was better than the end of the month.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Awesome month! Really could use an additional employee. Weather has been great!”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have been busy since August – economy is good. Hardly have time for service calls since stove sales are taking all of our time. Not complaining!”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Very busy, walk in traffic not slowing down, installations out about 10 weeks, customers are willing to wait. We’ve never seen it this busy in 30 years, Wow.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Sales are up, business is steady, fall is holding on a couple of weeks longer, and December is booked. I would say all is well in the magic kingdom! Living the dream.”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index increased again in October, following a modest improvement in September. The Index now stands at 137.9 (1985=100), up from 135.3 in September.

“Consumer Confidence remains at levels last seen in the fall of 2000 (September 2000, 142.5),” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions remains quite positive, primarily due to strong employment growth. The Expectations Index posted another gain in October, suggesting that consumers do not foresee the economy losing steam anytime soon. Rather, they expect the strong pace of growth to carry over into early 2019.”

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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Alaska: (Hearth, BBQ) “Wood stoves and inserts are flying out the door; natural draft oil stoves are making a comeback. Made in USA is a big selling point and people are willing to pay more for it. Linear LP fireplaces are getting popular now. Late fall weather spurred sales after a great summer in Southeast Alaska.”

California: (Hearth, Spas) “Our weather for the moment is beautiful but business is still brisk, especially for fireplaces. Insert business will hit as soon as we get cold or wet weather, hopefully soon.”

California: (Patio) “Even though 2016 was our best October in 45 years, I feel this election year was more uneasy and that lead to our worst October since 2012 when we only had one location. We even ran a BOGO sale, plus no sales tax for four weekends and ended up down 29% for the month. The uncertainty of our future continues.”

Colorado: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Under new ownership. Minimal change but no growth the first year.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have dramatically expanded our hearth business by building a brand new showroom as we added Quadra-Fire, Harman, and Heat & Glo lines of gas, pellet, and wood stoves and fireplaces. For the last several years we have only offered the Eco-Choice line of wood and pellet stoves.

“We have spent months of time and thousands of dollars on building a beautiful showroom. We have invested in training of staff to become professional hearth salespeople. We have ordered thousands of dollars’ worth of stoves and fireplaces to display. We continue to expand our stock width and depth of accessories.

“The support we have enjoyed from HHT on this new and exciting venture is disappointing. Zero in store support from the vendor. Only partial fulfillment thus far of our initial order of units to complete the showroom display. I’ve been in retail over 30 years, and I have never seen anything to rival what I am experiencing right now.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Busy October.”

Wyoming: (Hearth) “October hearth sales were our strongest ever!”


British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Hearth sales, especially wood, continues to surprise us, and, coupled with chimney installations, are benefiting our business.”

British Columbia: (Hearth) “Surprisingly strong activity in hearth products, including venting, considering that low temps are still above freezing. Perhaps most inquiries are being driven by potential natural gas shortages, so consumers are considering wood/pellet heating as an affordable alternative.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Pretty much matched our record hearth sales year from last year.”

Ontario: (BBQ) “October was a strong month. Unfortunately, we were closed for three days during a well-advertised store sale because of a tornado that ripped through the neighborhood.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “October started busy, but with warmer than usual weather it slowed down. The return of colder weather has re-ignited sales.”

Quebec: (Hearth) “Great year for wood with Montreal’s new law.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 28-Aug-18 26-Sep-18 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,930.75 2,581.00 2,913.98 2,658.69 -8.8% -0.4% 3.0%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 32.45 44.24 37.99 -14.1% 10.9% 6.1% $1,710.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 175.87 117.51 166.88 141.09 -15.5% 1.6% 16.5% $5,900.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.49 74.50 131.01 111.16 -15.2% 18.5% 28.3% $2,810.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 151.20 55.33 147.67 108.73 -26.4% 63.2% 61.0% $8,450.00


(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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