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Hearth & Home April 2019

2019 February Business Climate

February Sales

In early March, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,500 specialty retailers of hearth, patio, and barbecue products, asking them to compare February 2019 sales to February 2018. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 220 useable returns.

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Weather Report

Consumer Confidence

Stock Watch


February 2019 vs. February 2018

Forty-one percent of Hearth retailers were Down in February, followed by 38% of Spa retailers who said they were Down, while only 15% of Patio retailers, and 19% of Barbecue retailers were Down.

February 2019 vs. February 2018

It was a fairly dismal February for specialty retail sales; Spa sales were DOWN 11%, Barbecue sales were flat, Hearth sales were down 2%, and Patio sales were down 3%.

Retailer Comments


Connecticut: (Hearth) “Excited that business is still strong across the board – wood sales, pellet sales, and gas sales. Looking forward to another strong year.”

Maryland: (Hearth, BBQ) “February was a very cold month, but March has started with lots of snow already. 2018 was a very wet year!”

New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “Still extremely busy.”

New Jersey: (Hearth, BBQ) “More interest in gas, but wood and pellet are holding interest also – not like years ago, but definitely steady.”

New York: (Hearth) “Although we had a cold, snowy, and windy month here in Upstate New York, showroom traffic was lighter than expected in February. Those who did come in were serious buyers and were anxious to proceed with their installation!

“Our install backlog from January generated several cash and carry sales of gas logs, gas inserts, and wood stoves. Dealing with service requests for gas units that are 10-20 years old that have never been professionally cleaned or serviced – trying to get the word out that our products need annual maintenance!”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth) “For our fiscal year July 1 to February 28 we were up 29%. A very good year.”

Pennsylvania: (Hearth, BBQ, Spas) “Shortage of raw materials for wood pellets is driving prices of pellet fuel up. Pellet stove sales are down for us, but sales at Big Box stores are clearing their floors.”

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.

Draw a line from New Mexico to Michigan; every state to the left of that line experienced Below or Much Below Average temperatures in February; with the exception of Maine, every state to the right experienced Above or Much Above Average temperatures.

The heat in the three months of December, January, and February was in the Southeast and Northeast, with Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina experiencing Much Above Average temperatures.

In February, Tennessee experienced its Record Wettest month since records began in 1895. Nationwide it was the second wettest February and the wettest December-February over the same time span.

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Arkansas: (Hearth) “Very disappointing retail month and YTD. No floor traffic, no interest in buying whatsoever. People are mad about low/no income tax refunds and do not have intentions to buy hearth products right now. They are waiting for spring!”

North Carolina: (Patio) “Awful weather has not been a help – but up against a record February from last season. Overall no complaints.”

Oklahoma: (Hearth, Patio) “February sales were down but we have triple the deposits for products than we had last year. The number of things on backorder has slowed us from posting sales.”

Texas: (Hearth, BBQ) “We have been blessed with record sales YTD.”

Virginia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “The government shut down has hurt us in January and February. We are just now seeing people spending money on stoves, fireplaces, and inserts. Hopefully we can make it up?”

Virginia: (Hearth) “February 2019 sales were way better than the year before. In fact, overall sales for 2018 were the best since before the 2009 recession. I attribute that tremendous increase to high-end new home construction in the area we serve. Regular retail sales were up, too. But on the downside, the increase in cost of steel (thanks to president Trump and his tariffs) has required an increase in retail pricing. This happened at a time when things were really looking good. I expect a slight downturn in overall sales in 2019.”


Iowa: (Hearth) “Cold weather normally helps but it hurt us in February; can’t get installs done and customers just want winter to end.”

Illinois: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “It was very cold last month, but we had some scheduled price increases so a few folks pulled the trigger on their outdoor kitchens early to beat the price increase. That has boosted sales compared to last year.”

Illinois: (Hearth) “We have had some serious cold for this late in the season and this far south. Wood burning even staged a comeback!”

Michigan: (Hearth) “I feel it has everything to do with Trump’s tariffs and the public not feeling comfortable with what’s going to happen next.”

Wisconsin: (Hearth, BBQ) “Great start for the year, although the total closed/completed sales do not show it. We have been slowed down by extreme weather for February. Hard to complete the work in the conditions we had this month. We have a lot of installs booked for spring or as soon as we can get to them.”

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index increased in February, following a decline in January. The Index now stands at 131.4 (1985=100), up from 121.7 in January.

“Consumer Confidence rebounded in February, following three months of consecutive declines,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index improved, as consumers continue to view both business and labor market conditions favorably.

“Expectations, which had been negatively impacted in recent months by financial market volatility and the government shutdown, recovered in February. Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding. However, according to The Conference Board’s economic forecasts, the pace of expansion is expected to moderate in 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) “Very cold winter in SE Alaska slowed down stove sales – nobody wants to do any projects until it warms up. Looking forward to a busy spring.”

California: (Hearth, Spas) “I do not remember ever getting so much rain in California. But it’s been good for business. We are up in all categories. Fireplaces and spas are strong this winter as well. It feels like we will have a strong spring and summer. As long as the economy holds out.”

Oregon: (Hearth) “It is slow. We are working hard to follow up on everything. Now is the time to turn the focus inward (instead of blaming outside circumstances) to make sure we are doing what it takes to make the most of the customers out there.”


British Columbia: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ, Spas) “A colder than normal winter has really affected barbecue and patio sales, hot tubs are trending up a bit, overall it’s a reflection of the weather.”

British Columbia: (Hearth) “Lots of calls and emails inquiring about cost and availability, but no estimate/price quote requests.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, Patio, BBQ) “We had the work and could have beaten our installed sales numbers, but the weather really affected our installs.”

New Brunswick: (Hearth, BBQ) “Very bad weather, people didn’t want to leave their homes more than they had to. Traffic starting to pick up and now seeing customers looking for product for new homes and/or renovations.”

Ontario: (BBQ) “This year February is almost double (the same month last year). However, February is the worst month of the year. Double of very little is still very little.”

Ontario: (Hearth) “Finding more people looking for cheaper quality products from Home Depot or Canadian Tire. Also, local heating contractors selling consumers low-end builder models; that affects all of us in the specialty hearth industry. Shipping costs from suppliers continue to rise and margins continue to shrink, making it difficult to continue to keep a showroom open and running.”

Ontario: (Hearth) “February is commonly a slow month but we have found that, for most industries in our area, sales are down and service calls as well.”

Stock Watch

    High Low 1-Feb-19 1-Mar-19 4 WEEK 26 WEEK 52 WEEK ($000,000)
Standard & Poor’s 500 (a) S & P 2,930.75 2,351.10 2,706.53 2,803.61 3.6% -3.4% 4.2%  
HNI Corporation (b) HNI 45.40 32.55 38.32 38.55 0.6% -12.6% 3.0% $1,660.00
Pool Corporation (c) POOL 175.87 135.76 151.62 159.22 5.0% -3.1% 11.8% $6,270.00
Restoration Hardware (b) RH 164.49 74.50 133.64 156.21 16.9% -1.8% 94.7% $3,220.00
Wayfair, Inc. (b) W 170.99 60.53 109.99 169.83 54.4% 25.6% 111.4% $15,170.00


(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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