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Hearth & Home March 2019

2019 January Business Climate

January Sales

In early February, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare January 2019 sales to January 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 188 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


January 2019 vs. January 2018

Slightly more than half (51%) of Hearth retailers were UP in January, while 39% of Spa retailers were UP, 27% of Barbecue retailers, and only 14% of Patio retailers.

January 2019 vs. January 2018

In January, both Hearth and Spa retailers posted a 4% increase over the same period in the previous year, while sales were flat for Patio and Barbecue retailers.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “Finished up the year strong, and January sales are still strong. Even across the board – gas, wood, and pellet. Hopefully this trend will continue.”

New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “The cold spell is helping sales.”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Hearth business is awesome! Mostly all high-end product being sold with full installations and trim. Service business is also very brisk. We have raised all of our prices for in-home service. People want it and are very willing to pay top dollar for good professional service.”

New York: (Hearth, Spas) “The contents of our five-decades-old brick-and-mortar shall be changing my friends! No more fireplace tools, hearth rugs, kettles, or any electric, wood, gas, or pellet appliance that is sold on Amazon/Wayfair/Walmart, etc.

“We are actively seeking new products that (1) are not sold online, and (2) require man-power (us) to deliver/install/set up. If you rep products that are also selling online, do not call on our business! Never.

“Did you know that you can buy auger motors, snap disks, and blowers on Amazon? A big thank you to the hearth manufacturers and vendors who do not supply Amazon, and therefore support our business. That decision absolutely does not go unnoticed!”

New York: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Stoves, fireplaces, and inserts are strong – gas is up, pellet up slightly, and wood down slightly. Pellet sales last year and this year so far are up tremendously from previous years.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “Our fiscal year is July 1 and we are up 29%. Everything is selling well.”

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.

This year 21 states recorded Above Average to Much Above Average temperatures, eight more than a year ago, but down from 39 in January 2017.

For the three-month period from November through January, 18 states experienced Above Average or Much Above Average (California and Washington) temperatures.

In January, five states experienced precipitation that was Much Above Average (New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine).

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Not a bad retail month considering the extremely cold weather that slowed down floor traffic and installations, which put our sales under 2018. We will make it up in February.”

Florida: (Patio) “We were closed for the first two weeks of January due to moving. Busier than usual; customers wanted to see the new store! Lots more square footage to see the furniture and accessories.”

Louisiana: (Hearth, BBQ) “We usually come to a halt with sales in January, but not this year.”

Mississippi: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Overall this is the best January we have had on record. Last winter started out much colder and we sold more logs last winter. Other than that things are great.”

Virginia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Half of being down for the month of January was from the government shutdown here in the DC area. The other 10% was weather being up and down, warm/cold then cold/warm. Mother Nature isn’t feeling well or something? LOL.”

Virginia: (Hearth, BBQ) “The media is throwing fear into everything!”


Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “One of our grill lines is having a price increase on February 7, so we sold quite a few of their grills, which is not normal for January.”

Michigan: (Spas) “Flat-out-horrible month all across the board. Glad January is over!”

Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “Cold weather and snow have made for a great month in the hearth business. Too many times the weather is mild and sales fall flat. This arctic cold will be remembered into next year. Barbecue sales were very low for the same reason that hearth business was good. Very few brave people bought grills or cooked outside.”

Missouri: (Hearth, BBQ) “We were down for two weeks due to 18 inches of snow and severe cold from the polar vortex. This delay has backlogged us into February, and currently we have fought a week of ice, extreme cold and looking at another week of possible icy conditions.

“We need a thawing period so we can resume rooftop work and complete many fireplace installs in the holding pattern. Overall, though, I predict that sales will stagnate and be on course for 2018 numbers due to an over-saturation of competition in the past year, and the housing sector slowing for new builds in the local market.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth) “Our January sales have more than doubled. We have been installing a lot of fireplaces and stoves.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Sales are down on paper, however, a number of jobs will not be completed and billed until February. Strong month, slowed by the extreme weather, we are scheduled through April for installations now. Whew!”

Wisconsin: (Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Mild weather at the beginning of the month allowed people to still consider a hot tub. Extreme cold weather at the end of the month put a halt to even looking.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “Cold, lots of snow, more cold – too cold to work outside, too cold to work inside! Nice to have a warm fire to sit in front of!”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index decreased in January, following a decline in December. The Index now stands at 120.2 (1985=100), down from 126.6 in December.

“The Present Situation Index was virtually unchanged,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “suggesting economic conditions remain favorable. Expectations, however, declined sharply as financial market volatility and the government shutdown appear to have impacted consumers.

“Shock events such as government shutdowns (i.e. 2013) tend to have sharp, but temporary, impacts on consumer confidence. Thus, it appears that this month’s decline is more the result of a temporary shock than a precursor to a significant slowdown in the coming months.”

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, BBQ) “Sales and installs still strong – five week lead time to install.”

California: (Hearth, Spas) “We got our normal slowing for Christmas/New Year’s but the general public is back to business. Our cold, rainy weather is back and should be steady now through February.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “January was super slow for us, the slowest in years. Weather isn’t helping, but it’s an advantage because it’s making us analyze what we need to maximize the traffic we are getting.”

Oregon: (Hearth, BBQ) “The sales difference amounts to 1-2 units, no great concern.”

Washington: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “Warm December. Colder in January.”


British Columbia: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have sold a lot more chimneys than expected along with wood stoves, but January has slowed down somewhat to an average winter month.”

Ontario: (Patio) “Dead; we’re in Canada.”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio BBQ) “Polar vortex slowed traffic in the store, but we kept pace with last year.”

Ontario: (Hearth, BBQ) “I am not sure why, when we have had such a cold winter, but our sales have been down by quite a lot!”

Ontario: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “After a dismal 2018 January, it’s nice to be back to normal sales again.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 4-Jan-19 1-Feb-19 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,930.75 2,351.10 2,531.94 2,706.53 6.9% -4.7% -2.0%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 32.55 37.08 38.32 3.3% -10.2% 1.7% $1,710.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 175.87 123.88 149.28 151.62 1.6% -3.5% 14.4% $6,320.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.49 74.50 117.84 133.64 13.4% -0.8% 45.2% $3,000.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 151.20 60.53 90.06 109.99 22.1% -1.5% 21.2% $10,790.00


(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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