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Hearth & Home January 2019

2018 November Business Climate

November Sales

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

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


November 2018 vs. November 2017

Fifty-one percent of Hearth retailers were UP in November, followed by Spas at 46%. BBQ and Patio were at 25% and 21%, respectively.

November 2018 vs. November 2017

In November, both Hearth and Spa retailers posted a 9% increase over the same period in the previous year. Patio and Barbecue were at 2% and 1%, respectively.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “It’s encouraging to see a healthy year this year even though oil prices have dropped. It’s been cold, very cold for this time of year, and that seems to be boosting sales. Sales are across the board with wood, gas, and pellet, although wood is in the lead. Happy to be busy. Only real concern is the tariffs. Hoping they don’t ruin future sales.”

Connecticut: (Hearth) “Slower than I expected.”

Massachusetts: (Hearth, BBQ) “Retail sales have been excellent.”

New Jersey: (Hearth) “Major increase in showroom traffic for November. Sales are up and we expect that to continue through this season. Thankful for that! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “November was a terrific month here in the Northeast. The weather was cold and the people had money to spend. We sold many stoves and the fuel for them. We were also able to install new units and repair old ones out in the field. December has started off the same way, and we may have a record fall/early winter season on our hands.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “A fantastic year for us! Huge resurgence in wood stove and wood insert sales. Gas inserts and gas fireplaces are way up. We are installing almost all sales now. Very little DIY sales. Biggest problem is in service. We are booked out two months ahead. Crazy! It’s amazing how people don’t even change batteries in their remotes without help and are willing to pay a $100 trip charge for us to do it. Got to love it!”

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “Holy Smokes, pellet stoves are hot this year! But, alas, here in the Northeast winter came early, and so naturally what has followed is the tri-annual (and dreaded) pellet shortage! Pretty awkward and uncomfortable to install a pellet stove, and then follow that with – yeah, um – we’re out of pellets. I hate that!

“Gas inserts remain our #1 seller. Finding drug-free, experienced installers with a clean driver’s license continues to be our biggest challenge. Remember the Maytag man? Not the new rugged one, the old one, remember him? That’s Jessie White from those ’70s Maytag commercials. That’s what I’m looking for now. I’d hire him! And, by the way, we do not service pellet stoves purchased online, or at the Big Box store. Life is much calmer that way!”

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 November, most states experienced Below, or Much Below Average temperatures, while four states – California, Oregon, Washington and Florida – were at Above, or Much Above Average temperatures.

In the three-month period from September to November, eight states were at Much Above Average temperatures.

On the East Coast, three states stood out in November with Record Wettest weather, while 14 other states had Much Above Average precipitation.

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Another good month of retail sales for gas products and wood chimney systems involving home remodeling projects. Floor traffic is increasing and people seem to be more willing to spend money, which is refreshing. 2018 will end up being a good year.”

Florida: (Hearth, BBQ) “We had a great first part of the year and then it went flat in August. It’s still not as robust as in past years.”

Louisiana: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Not a great year, and not a bad year.”

North Carolina: (Patio) “We’re starting the year looking at all the months of sales outliers virtually impossible to hit – November was the month. Did our second best November ever, and still off 25%. Welcome to the wild, wacky world of retail.”

Virginia: (Hearth) “The rains have finally let up. So new home construction is catching back up. Cold weather finally moved in and regular retail sales are off and running. Vent-free gas products have skyrocketed. Have converted a bunch of direct-vent fireplaces to vent-free. Those customers are really happy. Saying, finally, we have a fireplace that not only looks good, it really heats. They love the efficiency.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Busy, but not really selling much!”


Illinois: (Hearth) “Lots of lookers. Lots of good conversations with real customer engagement. Maybe they will buy this month?”

Indiana: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “We had an uptick in spas and grills last month and the spas are looking decent for the beginning of December. Hopefully that will continue through the Christmas season and beyond!”

Ohio: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our miserable grill sales and lower than expected remodeling sales in the summer are making it difficult to catch up to last year’s record-setting pace. However, we do have one of our stores that was under-performing last year doing very well this year. With a new manager in place, that store is about to double the sales it had last year. Proving once again that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Our dollar sales are down a bit. We ended up warrantying out of our pocket, a system that the manufacturer did not stand behind. Materials and labor. This affected our total sales numbers for the month. Our sales for the year are up. We are booking February for installations.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Overall, November is up, though fireplaces are down a bit, but stove sales over last year put us up overall. We’re seeing a very good year-end, with profit being up 100% over last year. Has something to do with some of last year’s end of year sales pushed into January to reduce overall profit and paying too much in taxes. We will just have to pay the man this year.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Never seen this much new construction in 30 years. Walk-in traffic is heavy, high-end products are selling very well, gas is king, wood down, but gas way up.”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index declined in November, following a modest improvement in October. The Index now stands at 135.7 (1985=100), down from 137.9 in September.

“Despite a small decline in November, Consumer Confidence remains at historically strong levels,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions increased slightly, with job growth the main driver of improvement. Overall, consumers are still quite confident that economic growth will continue at a solid pace 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, Patio) “Unseasonably warm and wet autumn slowed down stove and pellet fuel sales dramatically. No snow yet in Southeast Alaska! Looks to be a slow pellet sales season.”

Utah: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “We sell Traeger grills. They have over-saturated the local market with retailers.”

Washington: (Hearth) “It’s been a busy month. There was a large rush midway through the month once weather finally turned to freezing.”


British Columbia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “November was on par with last year with the exception of wood stoves. I think this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “2018 has been an excellent year for everything except pellet stoves.”

British Columbia: (Hearth) “Phone keeps ringing, even though we are booked out 2 to 3 weeks.”

British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “Milder weather has helped some customers procrastinate longer, meaning more sales for us.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Weather, supplier back-orders, power outages, staff sickness, staff replacements, kind of like the perfect combination of events that affected our numbers this November. Glad it’s over!”

Ontario: (Hearth) “Both wood and gas fireplaces are being sold almost evenly across the board.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Sales have been crazy this year, up and down like a toilet seat! Customers come in totally confused from what they may have read about a certain product on the Internet. Which results in the need to compare 4 to 5 different models or manufacturers. And this Trump guy should shove this tariff stuff up where the sun doesn’t shine! The prices of some of our products are skyrocketing.”

Ontario: (Hearth) “There was such a resurgence of wanting to upgrade stoves this year. One of our best Novembers ever.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 2-Nov-18 30-Nov-18 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,930.75 2,581.00 2,723.06 2,760.17 1.4% 0.9% 4.5%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 32.45 38.65 38.55 -0.3% 4.8% 12.6% $1,570.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 175.87 123.88 145.08 162.51 12.0% 14.6% 28.1% $6,440.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.49 74.50 124.91 116.14 -7.0% 18.2% 13.9% $3,050.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 151.20 60.53 92.96 106.20 14.2% 11.8% 51.2% $9,790.00


(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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